Use of Rank by a Veteran: Former (Not Retired) Enlisted Member?
How do I address an invitation to a couple? She is a prior-service Marine Corporal. He is Master Chief Petty Officer Keith Smith who is retired from the U.S. Coast Guard.
She was Corporal Jane Doe, however her married name is Smith. Would she be addressed in a formal military setting as Corporal Doe? or Corporal Smith?
Those who are retired from the armed services are permitted to continue to use their rank socially.
Those resigning their rank/commission and being honorably discharged … are not permitted to continue to use their ranks after their service ends.
Since you say she was honorably discharged, she is now addressed as a civilian using her current name without rank: Ms. Jane Smith. I used “Ms.” rather than “Mrs.” since “Ms.” is the most typically used honorific for women today when their marital status is not pertinent. But if for some reason she prefers “Mrs. Jane Smith” or “Ms. Jane Smith” I would follow her preference.
As to whether it matters if she is married to an armed services retiree, Department of Defense guidelines are also clear that being married to a member of an armed service does not allow any use of the spouse’s rank. So in joint address they would be:
—-—-Master Chief Petty Officer James Smith
—-—-and Mrs. Smith
—-—-Master Chief Petty Officer James Smith
—-—-and Mrs./Ms. Jane Smith
— Robert Hickey Use of Rank by a Veteran Use of Rank by Veterans
Support for Use of Rank by a Veteran
I respectfully would like to offer my comment on what I perceive to be an incorrect statement regarding the use of military rank and title in the above posting.
With all due respect, I would say that Ms. Andria Post at the Naval Sea Systems Command has erred.
In fact, a veteran who has served honorably in a time of war may bear the title of the highest grade held during that war. This right is conferred by Congress in law by 10 US Code 772 Section (e) . I have only included references to retired officers in (c) and those who served honorably during wartime (e), and omitted (a)(b)(d)(f) and further.
CITE-10 USC Sec. 772 01/03/2012 (112-90) TITLE 10 – ARMED FORCES Subtitle A – General Military Law PART II – PERSONNEL CHAPTER 45 – THE UNIFORM
Sec. 772. When wearing by persons not on active duty authorized
—-(c) A retired officer of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps may bear the title and wear the uniform of his retired grade.
—-(e) A person not on active duty who served honorably in time of war in the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps may bear the title, and, when authorized by regulations prescribed by the President, wear the uniform, of the highest grade held by him during that war.
SOURCE (Aug. 10, 1956, ch. 1041, 70A Stat. 35; Pub. L. 99-145, title XIII, Sec. 1301(a)(1), Nov. 8, 1985, 99 Stat. 735; Pub. L. 101-189, div. A, title XVI, Sec. 1621(a)(1), Nov. 29, 1989, 103 Stat. 1602; Pub. L. 104-201, div. A, title V, Sec. 551(b), Sept. 23, 1996, 110 Stat. 2525.)
In the scenario described by “Bride-To-Be” , her father, a 1967 graduate of the US Naval Academy, would have, in fact, served during wartime (Vietnam War), and we may safely conclude did so honorably, as all service as a commissioned officer is deemed honorable unless such officer was sentenced to dismissal (very unlikely) by a court-martial. Therefore, I would encourage Miss Bride-To-Be to refer to her father by the highest grade held by him during wartime.
Additionally, there seem to be several more questions on this subject, and I believe that some protocol personnel are erring to the detriment of honorably discharged wartime veterans. Retired personnel obviously have earned the right to refer to themselves as such, and are further bound by DOD regulations with regard to the manner in which they make such reference. I wonder whether honorably discharged wartime veterans, not so bound by DOD regulations, may socially bear the title so long as they comport with applicable laws.
Thanks so much for your note.
Having worked on this topic for 25 years … here are my reactions:
—-#1) What jumps out at me is “when authorized by regulations prescribed by the President.”
—-—-I believe this applies to recall to active duty and a veteran assuming his/her former rank. I am unaware of any regulation prescribed by the President at this time.
—-#2) The Armed Service definitions of “retired” and “veteran” are distinct.
—-—-Retired personnel do not resign their ranks. They are never technically separated from their Service. Whereas, veterans do resign their rank and are separated from the service.
—-#3) As an observer of traditions, I note the pattern of limiting “address by rank to fully retired personnel” is typical in uniformed services.
—-—-The tradition is also followed by the Canadian and Mexican armed services … Maybe others too, but I know that those two limit use of rank to fully retired personnel.
—-—-A retired police officer, one who had a full career, can continue to use his rank when retired, but someone who was a police officer for a time and then chose to move on to another job … cannot.
—-—-Same with firemen.
—-#4) At the most recent Veterans Day Celebration in the US Senate, they read the names of those attending in two ways: retired personnel as (Rank)+(Name) and veterans as (Name), (Rank).
I don’t see this in anyway honoring anyone’s service more or less, but it does reserve certain courtesies of rank to fully retired career (and medically retired) personnel.
— Robert Hickey Use of Rank by a Veteran Use of Rank by Retired US Military