GENERAL OFFICER MEMORANDUM OF REPRIMAND (GOMOR) REBUTTALS
The General Officer Memorandum Of Reprimand is not your average military reprimand. Your career can effectually be over in 7 days unless you draft a winning rebuttal. The Bilecki Law Group leverages the sum of our military justice experience to win back your career.
How To Appeal and Win Back Your Career in 7 Days
The word reprimand is ubiquitous within military culture and there is not an enlisted personnel or officer who has not found themselves on the wrong end of a reprimand in their career. Whether that is your good old fashioned ass-chewing by a grizzled First Sergeant or an official documented incident, a reprimand by any other name is still a reprimand. Yet, all reprimands are not created equal and in the case of a General Officer Memorandum Of Reprimand (GOMOR) it starts a 7 day clock that could very well spell the end of your military career. Because reprimands in many forms are so common in the military, many good men and women in uniform find themselves content to take it like many that have come before them. That’s a career ending mistake because a GOMOR is not your average reprimand. It is a tool that when wielded flippantly by a vindictive command can change your life forever.
What A GOMOR Is And What It Is Not
Now, it is important to note that while the GOMOR is a unique monster to the Army, other service branches have similar letters of reprimand. Because most of the rebuttals we issue are for GOMORs, we’re going to stick to that language for consistency’s sake to facilitate the conversation. If you are with another service branch and you’d like to respond to such a letter, please still reach out. We can help you.
The GOMOR as it stands in the Army is a reprimand issued by a General Officer to reprimand a Soldier for misconduct that does not warrant a court martial. Or, at least that is what it is supposed to be. For many years now, the GOMOR has become the career ending letter of reprimand issued by General Officers. These get issued either when they get upset their JAG says there is not enough evidence to move forward with a court martial or when a vindictive JAG recommends a GOMOR be issued because they know they can’t win at trial.
Just recently we had a Non Commissioned Officer facing an investigation for sexual assault of a junior enlisted member. The evidence, which includes cctv footage, showed that she was lying about her allegations. Now, while it was right and just hear the claims of an alleged victim and investigate the claims, there still must be a burden of evidence met lest we find ourselves prosecuting innocent individuals. In this case, there was never a chance they could win in court and there was not even a good ethical or moral standing to substantiate the allegations.
So what does the General do? He issues a GOMOR for sexual assault. That is correct, the General apparently believes a woman was sexually assaulted and all he issues is a letter of reprimand. That’s because he knows the allegation is B.S. and is his way of exercising extra judicial punishment that will follow this Soldier the rest of his life. Or perhaps, with the current war on sexual assault raging, the General did not have the moral fortitude to call the case for what it was, a false allegation. If the GOMOR is permanently filed in his AMHRR, they will also file what is called a Documented Sex-Related Offense (DSRO) with HRC, that will then follow him wherever he seeks any federal employment. This isn’t justice and even in the strange and stacked against the defense world we call military justice; this still is just not right.
What Happens When The 7 Day Clock Runs Out?
When you are issued a GOMOR, you have 7 days to file a rebuttal. That’s it, just 7 days and the way they issue you the GOMOR, you tend to think that it’s not a big deal. If you’ve served in the military then you have been reprimanded for some reason or another. So why not take this reprimand on the chin and move on. That’s because what happens when this 7 day clock runs out will shock even some of the most experienced and informed Soldiers.
A Commanding General has three options when looking at a reprimand. One, they can tear it up and never speak of it again. Unsurprisingly, they don’t tend to tear up a GOMOR if the Soldier can’t find the time to offer up a single rebuttal to it. When you don’t offer a rebuttal, the CG will assume the one-sided reprimand is factual and incontestable. That’s why you have to offer a rebuttal to a GOMOR 100% of the time, without question.
The second option they have is to file it locally in your service record. It will stay there until you PCS and if nothing else happens. In that scenario, you can frame it and hang it above the pool table at your new house in Killeen outside of Fort Hood. The third and most damning option is to permanently file the GOMOR that will then follow you where you go. Know this, for serious allegations involving sexual assault or SHARP, they cannot locally file in your record alone. They must tear it up or permanently file it without exception.
No matter the outcome, if you file a rebuttal, your rebuttal will also reside with the GOMOR. This can help you immensely to ensure that anyone reading the GOMOR in the future knows your side of the story. It can also mean the difference between a win and a loss should you later appeal the filing decision to the DASEB and ABCMR. The GOMOR rebuttal may also play a significant role in process of getting unlinked from CODIS, DBIRS and FBI background checks.
What’s The Worst That Can Happen With a GOMOR?
The GOMOR was designed to be a simple letter of reprimand, but it has morphed into something more heinous. If you have a GOMOR permanently filed, your career is over. It’s done. They couldn’t meet the burden of proof required for a court martial, even in a system designed to efficiently convict Soldiers. So, with the signature of Commanding General, your career is over. Doesn’t matter if you have 15, 17, or even 19 years of service.
Next, they’ll administratively separate you or send you to a board of inquiry or show cause board where you’ll have to show cause for retention. This becomes a difficult task when a Commanding General just gave you a GOMOR for sexual assault and you couldn’t find the time to at least put forward a rebuttal. There is a good chance you’ll be pressured into resigning your commission as an officer and that would be an unqualified resignation, which means there is no guarantee of an honorable discharge.
Both officer and enlisted may be offered the chance to retire, but that is only if you have your 20 years. Most of the Soldiers we see with GOMORs are senior enlisted or officers with 10 to 19 years of service. The financial impact of being booted out of the Army at this point is significant.
Years of Experience
Court Martial Verdicts
Service Members Represented
The Most Important Rebuttal Of Your Life
When most Soldiers receive a GOMOR, it never passes through their heads that their Army career could effectively be over in 7 days. Again, we believe the ubiquitous nature of the reprimand is partly to blame for this dilemma. How many times have you been asked a question by senior personnel during a verbal reprimand and it is quite clear that the question was rhetorical in nature. So many times, it is your job to sit there and take it for the good order and discipline of the military. Not so with a GOMOR.
This is your career on the line and perhaps a damning letter in your permanent record that will follow you wherever you may go. So, of course, the Army only gives you 7 days to put together a rebuttal. Now, when civilian counsel is retained, we are typically able to get an additional 7-day extension, but that’s it. As good as we are, you’ll rarely get more than that – and the extension is in no way guaranteed. So, the clock starts ticking and we have to get to work, immediately.
We’ll get the file and go through a discovery process with the records and with you as the client. It is true that 99 times out of 100, your version of the story didn’t make its way into the GOMOR. Think back to the example we spoke about earlier. The GOMOR didn’t say, “You are receiving a reprimand for sexual assault of a junior enlisted member, though CCTV evidence speaks to the contrary.” No, the reprimand actually said, and this an authorized release of a quote from that very GOMOR, “Your behavior is abhorrent. You chose to sexually assault a fellow Soldier who trusted you and considered you a friend.”
Your Rebuttal Must Be Heard
Can you see why it is important to get your voice into the rebuttal? We’ll often interview witnesses to get their version of the story as well. If an actual incident did take place, we’ll make sure we get extenuating and mitigating circumstances. We’ll fill the holes in the investigation because we already know there were substantial reasons why they went with a GOMOR instead of a court martial. There are holes in the investigation, and we are going to make sure everyone in the chain of command knows about it.
We’ll also put together character witnesses for you and we go for quality over quantity. That’s not the 200 plus Soldiers who love you because you dismissed them early for weekend leave. Rather, we’ll go for the First Sergeant who remembers what you did in the Korengal valley of Afghanistan or the streets of Ramadi. Those that can speak to your character with authority, and we put it all on the line. These are big projects, sometimes 30 to 40 hours’ worth of work and that 7 to 14 day clock is ticking the whole time.
Right Decision or Wrong Decision, No Decision Is The End Of Your Career
For those of you who have stepped outside of the wire, you know that decisions made under duress in combat are complex. However, you also know that no decision is deadly. You might make the right decision or the wrong decision during an ambush, but no decision ensures the death of everyone around you. The Army GOMOR as it is currently being utilized is an ambush on your honorable career. No decision or no rebuttal, is the end of it all.
There is a good chance that if you are reading this page today, the clock has already started ticking for you. You are a good Soldier and you’ve taken your prior reprimands on the chin and continued to serve with honor. We are just pleading with you to understand that this GOMOR is not your average reprimand. This can be a career killer and you won’t realize that until the clock is up. Reach out to us and we’ll shoot you straight as to exactly what you are facing. You have fought for this country and for your career this long, but this is one more fight worth picking up. Best of luck to those of you facing a GOMOR who don’t reach out, to those of you who don’t want to rely on luck, give us a call or send us a message. We’ll take it to the streets and fight alongside you.