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Occasionally an Airman will be subject to some sort of formal punishment where he is judged by members outside the squadron. Because he is being judged by strangers who don't know him, character statements will be required in his defense. A character statement helps judges, Commanders, First Sergeants, and other strangers make fair decisions by providing a factual description of a person's character. The people who will read your character statement don't know the individual personally and are depending on you to accurately and honestly describe his or her character.
The most effective character statements are those written by someone who has known the person a long time and who can be considered to be impartial. An NCOIC or manager would usually be considered to be impartial.
If you are asked to write a character statement, don't worry if you can't write well. The important thing is that you cared enough to write. Usually, when things get to the point where character references are requested, the subject of interest is in potentially serious trouble and his career is on the line. He will be grateful for any effort on his behalf. And the members who will be judging the case don't care if you use bad grammar. They just want to get an idea of the person's history so that they can make a fair decision based on the evidence.
If you are called on to write a character statement on someone's behalf, make sure what you write is 100% factual. To do otherwise would damage your reputation and possibly make you subject to UCMJ action.
Type your statement and print it on good quality paper. Your statement will represent both you and the subject and its appearance will have some influence. Make it as presentable as possible.
In general, character statements have three sections:
Introduction. Normally a single paragraph of only a sentence or two explaining who you are (rank, place of work, etc) and your relationship with the subject (co-worker, friend, supervisor, etc). This is important. The reader will automatically assign a certain level of credibility to the letter based on the relationship.
Body. The body is the majority of the letter. It can be one or several paragraphs. Here is where you make the case for the subject by describing your experiences with him or her and giving examples of the subject's good qualities. The first sentence should state your overall opinion of the subject and everything else written should support it.
Make sure you address the type of behavior that the person is accused of having. If the person who needs the character statement was accused of reckless behavior, you should emphasize aspects of his or her behavior that demonstrate a serious regard for safety and the welfare of others. This will suggest to the reader that the incident was a one-time, out-of-character act, not likely to be repeated. Spend some time thinking this through --the Air Force often moves surprisingly swiftly to discharge offenders and your statement will have a lot of weight in determining the outcome and may even save your buddy's career.
Ask the subject of the character statement if they can provide any information that could help project a positive image such as a list of accomplishments, organizations that he or she belongs to, or any other relevant information. Ask your co-workers too. This is important.
Closing. Normally a single paragraph that reinforces your belief in the subject and summarizes your statement. Expressing a willingness to go further in defense of the subject by providing a phone number or offering to show up at any hearing will help.
Make sure you address specific traits. An effective character statement focuses on specifics. It can't be a rambling, general statement that "John is one of the nicest guys I have ever met". It must directly describe traits that support the person's character and counters the alleged bad behavior. The prosecution will methodically present arguments proving their case by focusing on specific traits.
If, for example, someone is being prosecuted for dereliction of duty, a character statement on that person's behalf should include information describing your experience with that person's earnest dedication to his assigned responsibilities.
If someone has been accused of insubordination, a character statement for that person should address your direct knowledge of that person's respect for authority and willingness to follow orders with examples if possible.
Of course, along with this focused description, you should also include your subject's other positive attributes. If possible, these additional positive attributes should overlap with or complement your main assertion. For example, a central theme of respect for authority and a natural willingness to follow orders would be supported by additional positive attributes of dedication to duty, an understanding of the need for order, and a positive attitude.
Character Statement Examples
1 Aug 2013
MEMORANDUM FOR ALL REVIEWING AUTHORITIES
FROM: XXXXXX X. XXXXXXXX, TSgt, USAF
SUBJECT: Character Statement for TSgt XXXXXXXX X. XXXXXX
My name is TSgt XXXXXX XXXXXXXX and I am writing on behalf of TSgt XXXXXXXX X. XXXXXX. I have been in the Air Force for over 15 years and currently I am the NCOIC of Personal Property of the Traffic Management Office, XLRS XXXXX AFB, XX.
I first met TSgt XXXXXX in April 20XX at NCOA, XXXX AFB, XX. I had the opportunity to get to know TSgt XXXXXX as a peer and as a friend. I know TSgt XXXXXX has dedicated her life to the Air Force and is an integral part of it. She embodies her job as XXX. She places her job and the Air Force first in her life, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
I have been informed by TSgt XXXXXX about the situation that she is currently in. In regards to this situation, I can tell you that this was a one-time mistake, out of character action, for TSgt XXXXXX. While TDY with her at XXXXX AFB, XX, I had the opportunity to witness her being a superb NCO and informing other NCOs about the GTC and the safeguarding the use of it. She is an outstanding NCO and knows the rules and regulations and lives the Core Values. Integrity First-TSgt XXXXXX has the integrity to acknowledge her mistake and take care of it immediately. Service Before Self- TSgt XXXXXX lives for the Air Force! She has never had any negative regards toward the service or her duties. She would drop everything to do her duties as an Airman. Excellence In All We Do- TSgt XXXXXX excels in all she does! She has excelled in her training and daily duties of XXX. She has proven to be a vital asset to her career field.
I am aware of the punishment that TSgt XXXXXX could be given. However, I do not believe the fullest extent of the law should be exercised when determining her final punishment. What I have personally witnessed of TSgt XXXXXX’s character does not indicate a person that possesses a threat to the professional image and integrity of our Air Force. It is my belief that people of her character and work ethic come too far and few in-between to risk losing, and I earnestly recommend suspending non judicial punishment. If you have any questions or concerns, or if I can be of further assistance, I can be reached at DSN 123-4567.
XXXXXXXX X XXXXXXXX, TSgt, USAF
MEMORANDUM FOR 8 MXS/CC
FROM: SSgt JONATHAN D. KEESLER, SSgt, USAF
SUBJECT: Character Statement – SrA XXXXXXXX R. XXXXXXXX
1. My name is SSgt Jonathan Keesler and I am writing on behalf of SrA XXXXXXXX R. XXXXXXXX. I have been in the Air Force for nearly five years and I am currently a swing shift supervisor for the Precision Guidance Munitions (PGM) Element, 8th Maintenance Squadron and a Victim’s Advocate selectee for the SARC.
2. SrA XXXXXXXX operates the PGM support section during swing shift and is a Physical Training Leader (PTL) for the shop. I interact with SrA XXXXXXXX on a daily basis when I coordinate work tasks and conduct follow-up inquiries on awaiting parts (AWP) and awaiting maintenance (AWM) work orders. In addition, I’m the ranking PTL for PGM and SrA XXXXXXXX assists in performing mock PT tests for PGM and Munitions Flight personnel.
3. SrA XXXXXXXX has consistently demonstrated an ethical and professional work behavior throughout the entire duration of my time spent working with her. There is a high degree of competence, integrity and initiative expected of any technician selected to work in the PGM support section since the majority of time is spent alone and without the availability of assistance from others to complete assigned tasks and SrA XXXXXXXX has proven to be an exemplary example. SrA XXXXXXXX is meticulous in performing her duties and I always find her diligently working when I visit to talk with her. Because of her consistent work ethic I’ve come to know SrA XXXXXXXX as an individual you can rely on to execute a task timely and efficiently. She is also quick to shoulder the responsibility for discrepancies in the support section that are discovered by Quality Assurance or any other evaluating personnel. I can’t recall a single instance where she has attempted to down play her involvement by throwing blame on someone else. Furthermore, when I’ve asked her to assist in administering mock PT tests I’ve never questioned her accuracy or judgment and she performs her duties without personal bias towards the individual she is evaluating – if your form is wrong she will correct you.
4. I am aware that SrA XXXXXXXX is receiving an Article 15 for wrongfully using a controlled substance. However, I do not believe the fullest extent of the law should be exercised when determining her final punishment. What I’ve personally witnessed of SrA XXXXXXXX’s character does not indicate a person that poses a threat to the professional image and integrity of our Air Force. It is my belief that people of her character and work ethic come too far and few in-between to risk losing and I earnestly recommend suspending non judicial punishment.
5. Please contact me if you wish to discuss this statement. I can be reached at DSN 782-5960.
JONATHAN D. KEESLER, SSgt, USAF
MEMORANDUM FOR ALL REVIEWING AUTHORITIES
FROM: MARY M. BELLA, Capt, USAF, NC
SUBJECT: Character Statement for A1C Joe J. Smith
1. My name is Capt Mary Bella and I am writing on behalf of A1C Joe J. Smith. I have been in the Air Force for almost nine years and currently I am the ASF Administration and Occupational Health Element Chief.
2. A1C Smith is one of the technicians who work in the Aeromedical Staging Facility (clinical operations). I have the opportunity to work with A1C Smith when I provide nurse coverage for the ground transportation of patients in the aerovac system. In addition, I have had the opportunity during the last month to interact with him during PT sessions three times a week.
A1C Smith always maintains a very high standard with dress and appearance. His interactions with me, and those I have witnessed with other superiors, are always with good military bearing as well as with keen attention to customs and courtesies. He completes all tasks I ask of him and has often shown initiative and motivation with other tasks. I call upon him frequently during unit PT sessions to assist others with their running and endurance. He does so without question. If he has a concern regarding a task I've given him, he requests clarification.
A1C Smith is a quiet spoken individual who often keeps to himself. This has not been an issue with me when working with him. I know of a couple of conflicts with his coworkers/peers. However, I believe it important to note A1C Smith is not the sole cause or root of those conflicts.
3. I am aware of the discharge proceedings against A1C Joe J. Smith. I would recommend supporting him with his request to stay in the Air Force. At the very least, a suspended discharge would allow A1C Smith the opportunity to continue his service while demonstrating his commitment to the Air Force. I believe A1C Smith has the potential we seek in our airmen. Good mentorship and leadership will provide him the foundation he requires to continue to be an asset.
MARY M. BELLA, Capt, USAF, NC
12 Oct 2008
My name is SSgt Smith and I am SrA Morrison's supervisor. I am writing this character statement in support of SrA Morrison. I understand that he recently got in a fight at the NCO Club and is now subject to UCMJ action.
I have worked with SrA Morrison (as a co-worker and now as a supervisor) for almost two years and in that time I have never seen him lose his temper or even raise his voice to anyone. He is one of the most quiet members of our work center. I have always known him to be quietly cheerful and, to my knowledge, he has always had a good attitude and a positive outlook. He does his share of the work without complaint and appears to enjoy his job and being a member of the Air Force.
I remember one incident that may illustrate his non-confrontational nature. One day, as SrA Morrison and I were walking back to the barracks after working all day at the air show, we were stopped by a Senior NCO and accused of shirking our duties. The NCO apparently thought we were assigned to his work detail and blasted us with insults and even put his hand on SrA Morrison's shoulder as if to arrest him. Despite the unjustified provocation, SrA Morrison remained calm and answered in a respectful manner, explained our situation, and then just walked away. He doesn't like confrontations and will avoid them if at all possible.
He has never been in trouble before or involved in any kind of altercation. He has not received any discipline here in our work center, not even a verbal reprimand. Despite his young age, he is one our most mature Airmen and never has to be told what his job is or be reminded to do something. In fact, I once heard our Maintenance NCO praise him at a meeting with the NCOIC, saying he wished he had more Airmen like him.
In summary, I am shocked to learn of the behavior SrA Morrison is charged with. It is completely out of character for him and I can't help but wonder if there were mitigating circumstances. He is one of our best troops and I would not hesitate to recommend him for retention and promotion. I feel certain that our Section Chief would agree.
20 Jun 2009
My name is SSgt Johnson and, as SSgt Jones' co-worker, I have known him for over one year. I am writing this character statement in response to allegations that SSgt Jones was involved in misconduct downtown.
I know SSgt Jones to be a dependable and reputable member of our work center. Since his arrival here, he has become a key member of our team. He is one of our most reliable members and is always on time. He always has a pleasant demeanor and gets along well with all members of our shop. He never complains about the workload and takes all assignments in stride. He really is an example to our Airmen of model behavior.
He is also very competent and 100% qualified on all tasks. He won Maintainer of the Month in March and often trains new Airmen in shop qualification tasks. He is also frequently involved with his church's charity.
I was surprised and disappointed to hear about the incident he was involved in downtown because it is so much out of character for him. I have never known him to be in any trouble and he has not been the subject of any disciplinary action either in our work center or the barracks. I know that, if given the opportunity, he would not repeat that kind of behavior and will continue to be a model Airman. If you have any other questions that I have not addressed or if I can be of further service, please don't hesitate to call me at DSN 234-5678.
8 Aug 10
MEMORANDUM FOR ALL REVIEWING AUTHORITIES
FROM: TSgt Timothy A. Ladd
SUBJECT: Character Letter for TSgt James V. Lemmons.
1. I write this letter on behalf of Sergeant James Lemmons. I understand that he is being considered for non-judicial punishment.
2. I have been in the Air Force for 10 years. I am assigned to Dyess AFB, TX where I serve as a Maintenance Qualification Training Program instructor. I know Sergeant Lemmons because I have worked for/with him for the past 4 years. I first met him in Sept 2006 when I was newly assigned to Dyess AFB. I did not have any C-130 maintenance background as I worked helicopters at my previous two assignments. TSgt Lemmons trained me and got me ready to deploy alongside him just 5 months after being assigned to Dyess AFB. Without TSgt Lemmons' training and guidance I would not be where I am today in my career.
3. Based upon my interactions with Sergeant Lemmons, I have formed a very favorable opinion about his military character. Sergeant Lemmons is a hard worker who tackles any task he is asked to perform, his work ethic is contagious to his peers and subordinates. He always ensures strict adherence to tech data which leads me to believe that this incident was a result of misunderstood and poorly written tech data. Sergeant Lemmons' service goes above and beyond the call of duty. He is a true American Airman, a wingman, leader and warrior!
4. I am familiar with the facts and circumstances associated with this incident. Based upon my knowledge of Sergeant Lemmons, I believe he should be granted leniency. Thank you for our consideration of this letter.
TIMOTHY A. LADD, TSgt, USAF
1. My name is SSgt Craig Morrella and I am writing on behalf of TSgt Donald Grindstaff. I have been in the Air Force for ten years and currently I am the Unit Deployment Manager for the 2 MXS squadron.
2. I first met TSgt Grindstaff nine years ago when we were working as crew chiefs on the flightline. I would never question his knowledge, honesty or integrity. I realize that TSgt Grindstaff's reputation is not the same as it once was, but since I still work with him I can tell you that he is still the same NCO. He has excelled and dedicated almost 19 years to the Air Force and it is sad to see him treated like he's some kind of dirt bag now. I am not saying that I know all of the facts but all I can do is explain my experiences that I've had with TSgt Grindstaff. He has never been threatning, he has never refused to help me with an issue whether it was work or non-work related, and he has never done anything that would make me question his integrity over my 7 plus years of knowing him.
3. As I said previously, I do not have all of the facts. All I can speak on is my past and current experiences with TSgt Grindstaff.
Positive attributes often found in character statements:
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