Posts Tagged ‘How to Address Military Officers’

Daughters of a deceased United States Air Force Colonel have asked for my help for the wording on a headstone/gravestone. I am thinking of:.

 Col. John Patrick Delaney
USAF, Retired

— Betty

I want to purchase a paver (a personalized brick) in a local veterans memorial for my grandfather.  He retired from the United States Army as a CW4.  His name is Harold E Copper,  I have 3 lines,  with 14 spaces per line.  Any ideas?
— JB

Dear Betty & JB:
    Deceased persons are referred to by just their NAME … honorifics, ranks, courtesy titles, and post-nominal abbreviations which are parts of a person’s name at various times during their lives —  are not included as part of the names of the deceased. Roles and ranks they had are listed afterwards.
     Military tombstones in military cemeteries are just NAME followed by rank and branch of service.
     “Retired” is not included. It was pertinent when the person was living and necessary to note that the person was not on active duty. Typically punctuation is not used on memorials, so I’ve shown the ones below without punctuation. So, in a correct style it would be:

John Patrick Delaney
Colonel USAF


Harold E Copper

     See the photos below.
          Robert Hickey

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 We have a client that is currently in the reserves and is making business cards. She is not stating a title at all but it wearing her uniform in the picture on her business card. Her husband informed her that she isn’t allowed to do this but we were wondering, for this client and for future clients, what the rule was for wearing uniforms in photographs on business item such as business cards, flyers, yard signs, etc. Any help would be appreciated. A copy of the business card is attached with the contact information removed.
       — A.M.M.

     I’ve recently noticed a retired LTC and his son (who was a SSG) who opened a rug-cleaning business in my area. They have a newspaper ad with pictures of both of them in uniform marketing their new civilian business. Guidance please.
       — R.M.

Dear A.M.M. & R.M.,
A U.S. Department of Defense regulation that’s pertinent is DODI 1334.01.
  It is U.S. DoD policy that:
3.1. The wearing of the uniform by members of the Armed Forces (including retired members and members of Reserve components) is prohibited under any of the following circumstances:
3.1.2. During or in connection with furthering political activities, private employment or commercial interests, when an inference of official sponsorship for the activity or interest may be drawn.

In both cases it is exactly what the DoD regulation would seek to prohibit. Both of these situations are examples of people trying to parlay the goodwill of the public toward veterans – to financial success in their commercial enterprises.
       — Robert Hickey


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What is the proper way to address a former astronaut?
There is a lawsuit in California regarding former astronaut running for Congress. Is he or is he not allowed to call himself Astronaut (Name) in his campaign if he is not currently an astronaut?
       — Brian K. in California

Dear Brian K.,
Being an astronaut is not a personal rank one attains and keeps. It is more like being a chef, teacher, shepherd or lifeguard: a job one holds — in this case – held. He’s rightfully able to identify himself as having been an astronaut.
There is no personal rank granted for being an astronaut, and no special honorific used when directly addressing an astronaut.
A candidate for political office is correctly addressed as Mr./Ms. (Name).
Many astronauts are or have been military officers and thus are socially addressed by rank in retirement. It would not be appropriate for a retired officer to use his/herrank as part of his/her name in a campaign for public office.
If he’s no longer in the NASA program (which you seem to say he is not) perhaps most accurately he would be identified in text or in an introduction as a one of the NASA (name of mission) astronauts or something similar.
       — Robert Hickey    http://www.formsofaddress.info/faq.html


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When writing a letter to a Senior Vice Commander of a Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, how do I address the envelope? Is it Commander (Name)Senior Vice Commander (Name), or Mr. (Name)?
         — MKH

Dear MKH,
Senior Vice Commander of a Veterans of Foreign Wars post is not exactly a rank – as if he is on active duty in the armed services. It is an office or a role at a paramilitary organization.
It’s a bit like being principal of a school. At school it’s likely people will address the person as Principal (Surname) — formally he is:
  Dr./Mr./Ms. (First Name) (Surname)
But, in the context of his or her responsibilities at the VFW Post it would be correct to use his office before his name, for example in a salutation:
            Dear Senior Vice Commander (Surname),
– Robert Hickey    http://www.formsofaddress.info/faq.html

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How would I address an envelope to the Commandant of Midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy?  His rank is captain.
      — Nan King 

Dear Ms. King:
     The rule is to address him by rank and identify him by the office held. So first use the standard form for addressing a USN Captain … the list his job … and then the address.
The correct form is:
                Rank & Name        Captain (Full Name), USN
                Office                        Commandant of …
                Address                   Address
      — Robert Hickey

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I have recently retired from the Air Force after 20 years of service and the company I am currently employed with would like me to include my retired rank and status in my signature block… something like:
After looking though you blog, I am in full agreement with the statement from your Pentagon source that says if retirees are in a new job, then they should use a signature block that supports that job and should not their former military rank & retired. 
However there are other retirees working in the company who do use their retired status on business cards and email signature block.
My question is … Is there any firmer or more direct verbiage addressing the use of retire rank other than the above using the ambiguous “should,” I do not really want to rock the boat at my new job, but I also don’t want to be pressured into essentially “Pimping” out my retirement status for the corporation.
             — Rich Stanton

Dear Rich,
There is only the DoD guideline and at issue is how it’s interpreted: … use of military titles is prohibited if it in any way casts discredit on DoD or gives the appearance of sponsorship, sanction, endorsement, or approval by DoD.
I observe armed services protocol officers interpreting the use of one’s former rank in a post-retirement job as giving the appearance of seeking to gain some advantage over others based on one’s pre-retirement rank or another’s lack of military service.  If the new employer is solely interested in the vets experience, then the vet has the knowledge no matter how they are addressed. Right?
A private-sector corporation has no long-term investment in maintaining the respect and prestige of active-duty ranks but perhaps there is a short-term benefit to their bottom line.
This contrasts with the DoD which has a long-term investment in maintaining the value the respect and prestige of those in uniform.
To me it’s economics: can I leverage my former position to my future personal benefit?
    — Robert Hickey

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I am working on reply letters for my boss to send to different individuals including several active Army personnel.  One of them is the current commanding officer at a nearby military installation.  His signature block on official letterhead is:
(Rank), US Army

At the top of the letter, it states, reply to attention of Office of the Commander. So would the return letter be addressed as the following or some other format:
(Rank), US Army
Office of the Commander
Department of the Army
And for the salutation:
   Dear (Rank) (Last Name): 
— DH in Nevada

Dear DH:
1) No … don’t use their e-mail letter block to address a letter.
Use the form of address for the particular rank I have on my guide to offices.
Find the rank … and follow the format.
In my book I cover invitations, place cards, name badges, introductions. what to call them in conversation, etc, if this sort of thing comes up often. But on this site I just provide the basics for business envelope, business letter’s address block and salutation.
2) If you are in Nevada, and this Office on the Commander is nearby, I doubt he is thecommander of the Department of the Army.
He must be a commander of something much smaller …. like a base or installation …. so it’s going to be something like:
     (Rank) (Full Name), USA
Office of the Commander
(Name of base, installation, etc.)

3) Your salutation looks fine.
               – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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