3 Ways to Respond to an Adverse FITREP

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If you are a Sailor or Marine that receives an adverse FITREP, the impact can be devastating to your career. You need to protect your future and submit a persuasive appeal. Here's what you need to know about adverse FITREPs and our tips for responding.

Impacts of an Adverse FITREP

The first and most obvious impact of FITREP is on your promotability. If you have an adverse FITREP, your chances of promotion are decreased, sometimes significantly. You may also be coming up on reenlistment. If your adverse FITREP is recent, your command may be unlikely to reenlist you. Finally, an adverse FITREP may affect your future career opportunities and assignments. Because an adverse FITREP can have such a big impact on your career, it is important that you respond in a professional and persuasive manner. BUPERSINST 1610.10E, Chapter 17 describes your rights to respond to and appeal an adverse FITREP. Here are Military Justice Guides' tips for submitting a persuasive appeal.

3 Ways to Respond to an Adverse FITREP

Tip #1: Address the Allegations Against You

The reason you received an adverse FITREP is that your supervisor believes that your performance during the rating period was unsatisfactory. In your FITREP Appeal, it is important that you confront those allegations and the evidence against you. There are three common ways to respond to allegations based on our “best practices.”  

First, you can accept the allegations as true and simply hope for the best outcome.  This most commonly happens when the evidence against you is clear.  (For example, you sent inappropriate text messages to someone, and your command has those text messages that are including a negative rating on your FITREP because of it.)

Second, you can dispute the allegations but not make a statement.  This most commonly happens when the evidence against you is unclear, but anything you say about what happened could make things worse.  (For example, if someone claims you said something inappropriate to them, there is no hard evidence or witnesses, but you know that you actually did say the inappropriate thing.)  

Finally, you can dispute the allegations with a statement and evidence.  This most commonly happens when the evidence against you is unclear, and your statement could change things.  (For example, if someone claims you said something inappropriate to them, there is no hard evidence or witnesses, and you know you did not say the inappropriate thing.)

Although the team at Military Justice Guides are not lawyers, and cannot give you legal advice, we can say from experience that these are the best ways to address the allegations you are facing in your FITREP Appeal. There are many ways to respond to an adverse FITREP.  The key is to decide on a strategy and stick to your message.  Provide information and evidence that helps your command understand your position and, hopefully, resolve your case in the most lenient way.

Tip #2: Show Your True Colors

When you receive an adverse FITREP, you might think that it is all your leadership or command cares about. In our experience, however, it's important that your leadership understands all the good things you have done. You need to show them that what led to your adverse FITREP was out of character for you. You should include positive details about yourself and your career. Show them your true colors.

We always encourage our clients to detail their careers. Talk about your assignments and what you learned from them. List your training opportunities. You should definitely include lots of information about any awards you may have won or been nominated for, even if they are "small" awards. Explain your successes, including any major projects, decorations, recognitions, etc.  Explain that, because you have been successful in the past, you know you will be successful in the future.

Tip #3: Get Support from Others

Perhaps the most powerful way to respond to an adverse FITREP is through character letters. Character letters allow you to ask other people, like your co-workers, to stand up for you and help you show your true character. In any character letter, you want the author to talk about three things: how they know you, what they think about you, and what your best character traits are. Character letters are an excellent way for you to show your leadership how you contribute to the military community and how other people think you will succeed in the future.

When you ask for character letters from others, you should explain the allegations against you so that they understand why you need their support. You can also provide them with a Character Letter Template, which is a good way to show that you are planning to submit a professional rebuttal and need help.

Character letters are truly the best way to show that others support you and will help you in the future.

Writing a Persuasive FITREP Appeal

The tips above should help you write a persuasive appeal to your adverse FITREP. Our products can also help. If you are interested, please feel free to read more on our website or purchase a template below:

Military Justice Guides

Military Justice Guides and MilitaryJusticeGuides.com are not law firms, nor do our employees act as legal counsel. MilitaryJusticeGuides.com provides an online portal to give users a general understanding of military law and to provide an automated software solution to individuals who choose to prepare their own documents. MilitaryJusticeGuides.com Services may also include a review of your answers for completeness, spelling, grammar, and for internal consistency of names, addresses and the like. At no time do we review your answers for legal sufficiency, draw legal conclusions, provide legal advice, opinions or recommendations about your legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms, or strategies, or apply the law to the facts of your particular situation. We are not a law firm and may not perform services performed by an attorney. Military Justice Guides and MilitaryJusticeGuides.com, its related Services, and its forms or templates are not a substitute for the advice or services of an attorney.

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