January 24, 2021, 06:04:34 pm

A question for Active Duty members

Started by Holding Pattern, August 18, 2020, 04:52:05 pm

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Holding Pattern

For those of you currently in the military (or prior service willing to share experience), how can we help you with military awards or nice things to put on your "reasons why I should be promoted" list?

By way of example, I see that CAP service is specifically called out on the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Award wikipedia page.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_Outstanding_Volunteer_Service_Medal

If a squadron provides a letter to the member outlining time and hours served along with accomplishments, does that help you when applying for such an award?

What other ways can we help you in your active duty career?

JohhnyD

Great question, thank you!

We are onboarding a half dozen current, active duty NCOs this month, I will ask them this question as well.

Hawk200

I received my MOVSM specifically for Civil Air Patrol. Buddy told me about it, so I wrote him up for one.

Then he wrote one up for me. I think he got his first.

farsightusf2017

Usually we don't write ourselves up for awards. Ideally your leadership is involved and know what you do in your free time and if they are worth their grain in salt they do what they can to recognize you. Every service values things differently in the Navy community service on an enlisted eval vs an Officer fitrep have different effects.
But YES please recognize the AD you do have and the letter would be helpful if they are trying to be recognized and good on you for looking out for them.

PHall

Got mine for CAP service. Had another guy in my unit who got his for working with the Boy Scouts and Explorers.
Had another guy in my wing who got the MOVSM twice for CAP. Got his basic award and then put in for his second award 3-1/2 years later.
In the Air Force the approval level is pretty low, as in the first O-6 in your chain of command.
For me in a flying squadron it was our Operations Group Commander.
Pretty good fodder for a bullet point on your EPR.

coudano

I have a handfull of EPR/OPR bullets that involve CAP service, including running flying ops, sorties, hours, dollars, impacts.  That also includes joint ops (i'm in the Air National Guard) where CAP was working on the same state emergency duty that I was (actually guard one week, cap the other week) and liaising between CAP and the Guard/State HQ.

When I have had active duty members come to support CAP for everything from Encampment to Cadet/Color Guard Competition, to bringing toys out to field training exercises, teaching classes or career exploration events... I always make sure to write a nice letter of appreciation to the folks that come out and support CAP, put it on nice CAP letterhead, and mail it to that troop's commander...

Troop gets called up and recognized in front of their peers,
Contents from that letter of appreciation are good fodder for that troop's quarterly/annual awards nominations (whole airman concept, community service/support) and quarterly/annual awards turn into EPR/OPR bullets for annual reviews (which turn into PRF's for promotion recommendations later)

That is probably the biggest currency CAP has available to 'pay' military members for support.
Understanding how to write a Letter of Appreciation so that it looks and feels right in a military context is a critical skill that anyone in CAP who deals with RealMilitary absolutely should have, and know how and when to use!!!

The MOVSM is cool and whatever, but I don't believe it's worth any points for promotion calculations.  The stuff I listed above, however, is.

coudano

Another 'currency' that CAP has available, is that CAP support is listed in the reg as a justification for permissive TDY.  A troop coming to support CAP can get time off work in some cases, without being forced to take leave (although they will not get paid normal travel or per diem).

Sometimes a break from the office is a great thing...

Sometimes it does more harm than good...

Two sides to the coin :)

baronet68

When I was in the Army, the MOVSM didn't exist.  My chain of command didn't quite understand the finer details of CAP but considered it worthy enough to include a bullet point for one of my Army Achievement Medals which said I was a role model for youth by volunteering as a "Lieutenant in the Civilian Patrol." 

Michael Moore, Maj, CAP
National Recruiting & Retention Manager

Capt Thompson

Quote from: baronet68 on August 19, 2020, 08:42:05 amWhen I was in the Army, the MOVSM didn't exist.  My chain of command didn't quite understand the finer details of CAP but considered it worthy enough to include a bullet point for one of my Army Achievement Medals which said I was a role model for youth by volunteering as a "Lieutenant in the Civilian Patrol." 


I was actually surprised when I went to enlist in the Army in '98 and mentioned CAP, the recruiter got all excited and asked if I had my Mitchell yet. I spoke with all four branches and the only ones that didn't know what CAP was were the Marines. Sadly the Air Force recruiter sort of had an idea we existed but didn't really know a lot about us, but the Army and Navy recruiters were pretty well informed.
Capt Matt Thompson
Deputy Commander for Cadets, Historian, Public Affairs Officer

Mitchell - 31 OCT 98 (#44670) Earhart - 1 OCT 00 (#11401)

GroundHawg

My MOVSM wasn't CAP related, but I did write up one for a highly motivated member for her CAP and USCG Auxiliary service and included in her justification for the award that she had received the CAP Community Service Ribbon. 

TheSkyHornet

Quote from: farsightusf2017 on August 18, 2020, 11:38:27 pmUsually we don't write ourselves up for awards. Ideally your leadership is involved and know what you do in your free time and if they are worth their grain in salt they do what they can to recognize you.

Only in CAP have I heard of someone telling you to "fill out the form, send it to me, and I'll sign it."

I definitely agree with the Letter of Appreciation. Put it on official letterhead and pen-sign it; then snail mail it.

I don't think it's really all that different from how you would write up an Achievement Award or a letter of recommendation. I've written numerous letters for community service, whether another organization has asked "What does this person do...what is Civil Air Patrol, even?" or when a CAP member says "Hey, my work will match my hours with a financial contribution."

Make sure that you're writing the letter for the individual, and not for the organization. That's key. Don't sign anything that you don't truly agree with or believe. Make sure that individual has done something warranting that recommendation. Remember that the lowest commendation level of any letter should be a "They did a great job and really helped out" and go up from there.

A great time to write these comes after a CAP event/activity, such as a major fundraising event, or significant accomplishment. Maybe that individual helped to orchestrate a training weekend and volunteered their time to train 50 people. Maybe that individual completed their 50th O-Flight pilot mission. Often times, an award citation for an CAP award can be written onto letterhead and used as a duplicate Letter of Appreciation. Both can go in that individual's personal file folder.

This is really one of those "Recognize your people when they do great things" and "Get to know your people: What big things do they have coming up in their life? What are they trying to achieve outside of CAP?"

For what it's worth, I think this is a fantastic topic and approach to maintain that local team/espirit de corps.

Eclipse

Encampments routinely issue Personnel Authorizations and certificates for military personnel
who assist with the activity for use as applicable in regards to Community Service hours.
It's been a draw for the 80+ service members whose benevolent service we receive each year.

The same goes for Federal Employees.

Be careful with "permissive TDY" and similiar leave situations.  Yes, it is a perfectly legitimate way to get some low-impact leave, etc., but make sure that all parties understand completely what the situation is so it doesn't
come back to bite them.

Usually the issue is an inattentive commander or manager who approves the TDY or leave,
only to have to circle back around on it later when some disinterested party complains.
I have personal and direct knowledge of service members and federal EE's being disciplined,
and in one case having to pay back the time PTO.



Holding Pattern

Quote from: Eclipse on August 19, 2020, 04:49:41 pmBe careful with "permissive TDY" and similiar leave situations.  Yes, it is a perfectly legitimate way to get some low-impact leave, etc., but make sure that all parties understand completely what the situation is so it doesn't
come back to bite them.

Usually the issue is an inattentive commander or manager who approves the TDY or leave,
only to have to circle back around on it later when some disinterested party complains.
I have personal and direct knowledge of service members and federal EE's being disciplined,
and in one case having to pay back the time PTO.


Can you break down what happened in a bit more detail so we know how to properly coach people to avoid this situation?

Eclipse

Quote from: Holding Pattern on August 19, 2020, 06:57:12 pmCan you break down what happened in a bit more detail so we know how to properly coach people to avoid this situation?

Don't in any way insinuate that a CAP activity or service is "under orders" or "duty" related to the USAF,
or that participation is a requirement in the same way as normal AD or Res service and training is.



Holding Pattern

Quote from: Eclipse on August 19, 2020, 07:09:53 pm
Quote from: Holding Pattern on August 19, 2020, 06:57:12 pmCan you break down what happened in a bit more detail so we know how to properly coach people to avoid this situation?

Don't in any way insinuate that a CAP activity or service is "under orders" or "duty" related to the USAF,
or that participation is a requirement in the same way as normal AD or Res service and training is.

Ah. Yikes. Thanks.

coudano

Dude here's the other thing i'm going to say...
There are ways for CAP to recognize members, and there are ways for the military to make it easy for members to support CAP...

If someone is JOINING CAP as an ACTIVE MEMBER (senior member)
Then they should be serving for the pleasure of serving, just like every other volunteer,
not (i argue) for what they can 'get out of it' in terms of career advancement.

Not that you can't do the things for people who are dual members, but I would raise an eyebrow at an /expectation/ or quid pro quo arrangement from an actual active member.

coudano

Permissive TDY is not a 'verbal order' thing... it's a formal leave category, and should be taken just like any other leave (in the USAF, via leaveweb) documented, and approved by supervisor's digital signature.  That's how you avoid the circle back around and screwed over...

TheSkyHornet

Quote from: coudano on August 19, 2020, 11:13:24 pmI would raise an eyebrow at an /expectation/ or quid pro quo arrangement

That should stand for any person who joins CAP.

If you're doing this as a "Here's what I can do for you; what can you do for me?" effort, go somewhere else.

We naturally trade those things. But if someone wants accolades in trade for helping out, I question the motives.

Terry W.

Several thoughts here. In 22 years of Active Service, writing or having a large part in writing awards and evaluations for myself was a fairly common theme actually. Especially since half of that time was as a Senior NCO. It is definitely not the correct way, but it happens. As far as the MOVSM, I received it six times for service to Civil Air Patrol. My family and I also received the Presidential Volunteer Service Medal-Gold. Those were submitted by a Squadron Commander who was very familiar with the inner workings of the Army. We recently submitted an MOVSM for an Airman and I will tell you the requirements differ between the branches. I was told the Air Force approval authority is O6 level, while the Army is O5. Also, in a lot of Army organizations it is tied simply to the number of hours served. When the Commander of the Airman told me that you can't receive the award for simply giving up time, I replied that exactly is what the award is for. That is why it rates so low for awards and decorations. In regards to volunteering in general, the Air Force seems to put more emphasis on volunteer activities from my observations and the Army could care less. Lastly, I did not join CAP to help my military career. I joined to give back to the program. However, I do think it helped a lot with my follow on career after the Army as I became a teacher.

Stonewall

August 22, 2020, 01:29:18 pm #19 Last Edit: August 22, 2020, 01:52:29 pm by Stonewall
I was on active duty in the Army when the MOVSM was created, sometime in the early 90s. A fellow soldier, who was also a former CAP cadet, knew I was still in CAP as a senior member and sent it up the chain to put me in for the medal.  It was early on, and it was Army, and we were in the Infantry, so no one knew just how to submit the award, and anything that took more than 30 seconds was wasted time.

Fast forward to 1997, while I was in the Army National Guard, my CAP commander, an active duty Air Force Lt Col, sent my Company Commander a letter outlining my service as a volunteer in CAP.

Here is that letter.

QuoteMEMORANDUM FOR COMMANDING OFFICER, COMPANY C, 3RD BN, 116 INF, 29 ID, VA ARNG

2 Jan 97

FROM: Commander, Mount Vernon Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol

SUBJECT: Nomination for Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal

1. I nominate Corporal Peter K. Bowden, Virginia Army National Guard, for receipt of the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal (MOVSM). In addition to his service as a member of the Virginia Army National Guard, Corporal Bowden has been a volunteer member of the Civil Air Patrol, United States Air Force Auxiliary, for more than ten years. He currently holds the rank of Civil Air Patrol Captain and is the Deputy Commander for Cadets of the Mount Vernon Squadron located at Ft. Belvoir, VA. To put it simply and quite literally, Corporal Bowden is the driving force behind the renaissance of the Mount Vernon Composite Squadron and is the sole reason that the Squadron now has a viable and vibrant cadet program having resurrected it from a dormant state. Additionally, Corporal Bowden acts as my principal advisor on most every aspect of squadron operations. I base this nomination of the following elements:

a. Membership Recruiting and Retention: Shortly before Corporal Bowden assumed his duties, five (5) cadets were in regular attendance and total active membership numbers never went into double digits. Through program development and aggressive recruiting through school, flyers, posters, the media, and the Internet, regular attendance has increased eight-fold. His cadet program retention rate is 100% with every single active cadet renewing his membership. In fact, two former members rejoined the squadron after hearing about and seeing a dynamic cadet program.

b. Cadet Schedule: Corporal Bowden established a six (6) month meeting schedule and training plan for the cadet program. He published a cadet schedule in January and July and distributes them to the cadet corps so that they appropriately prepare for and anticipate each meeting. He does not take action in a vacuum; rather he guides and facilitates the cadet staff, from the cadet commander to the element leaders, in devising their own goals and objectives and translating them into a training schedule. He even solicits inputs from cadets over the Internet. Results have been dramatic in that all scheduled training has taken place while allowing room for necessary adjustments. After establishing and implementing the structure, he is able to mentor cadets providing guidance and direction to them as well as monitoring their progress. Corporal Bowden has also increased senior member participation in the cadet program by having three (3) full time assistants where before there were none. Providing a workable structure has been the key to program viability as evidenced by:

(1) Twelve (12) cadets earning Emergency Services qualifications, a 400% increase over our previous posture.

(2) Nine (9) cadets earning Radio Operator Authorization, a 300% increase over our previous posture.

(3) Thirty (30) cadets have completed Phase I, one (1) cadet has completed Phase III, and one (1) cadet has completed Phase IV. Within Phase II, cadets are progressing appropriately according to ability with most cadets completing three (3) achievements. All progression represents a 100% increase from previous years.

(4) Cadet orientation flight completions have increased 750% from last year's baseline.

(5) Three (3) cadets participated in national special activities, up from zero the year before.

(6) First time encampment attendance was (9) up from zero (0) the year before.

c. Training Flight: A novel concept has been institutionalized in the form of Training Flight which Corporal Bowden established. The goal of Training Flight is to take new members and convert them into fully qualified cadets who have completed Phase I requirements in nine (9) weeks. Training Flight is more just classroom instruction on drill and ceremonies and other Curry Achievement requirements, it is also a mind set and way of life. New cadets are segregated from other cadets until they complete Training Flight which culminates with a graduation ceremony where they are awarded rank, a squadron hat, a squadron t-shirt, and a squadron patch. That all wear an alternative uniform until permanent CAP uniforms are available and all wear special name tags. Group trips are made to the Wing Warehouse and local clothing sales outlets to obtain uniforms. Afterwards, there are classes not just in uniform wear but how to iron and sew uniforms as well. The program is administered through the established framework by a senior cadet.

d. E-Mail: Corporal Bowden makes extensive use of e-mail for cadet communications and has even motivated senior member ranks to do the same. The squadron now boasts over 50 active e-mail addresses as a result of his efforts. It has quickly become the definitive source of all squadron information.

e. Other Accomplishments:

(1) He has his staff handle all cadet personnel and administrative actions thereby assisting the squadron personnel and administration officer. Cadets have been appropriately rewarded for recruiting, rescue finds, encampment attendances, and special activities when before they were not.

(2) Corporal Bowden visited his cadets at special activities to insure they were maximizing their learning experience. At the national Ground Rescue School, he was even invited by the Senior Staff to assist as an instructor for that day.

(3) Fostering cooperation, Corporal Bowden conducted two joint meetings with Fairfax Composite Squadron and attended two events hosted by the Prince William Composite Squadron, Virginia Wing. He also led a ground team in assisting with a practice mission with Leesburg Composite Squadron, Virginia Wing.
 
(4) With respect to Emergency Services, Corporal Bowden was again at the forefront showing cadets proper procedures. He planned and executed two squadron field training exercises providing realistic ground training experiences and even integrated air support for one of the exercises. Additionally, he was a key member in locating Emergency Locator Transmitters on nine (9) separate missions and was extensively involved in ground team operations during a missing child search, conducting six (6) sorties.

(5) In addition to his service in the Virginia Army National Guard as an Infantry Team Leader, he is a full-time student at George Mason University studying Criminal Justice and employed by the Central Intelligence Agency.

2. As you can see, Corporal Bowden has accomplished the impossible in a year's time breathing new life into a squadron while making it all look easy. In my 24 year association with Civil Air Patrol, I have never before seen such a dynamic, well-rounded, motivated, complete, and capable an individual as I see in Corporal Bowden. He is held in the highest regard by his peers and is distinctively mature beyond his years. Twice before having served as an Air Force Squadron Commander, I only wish I had the luxury of having a dozen Peter Bowden's in my squadrons. I know you will agree that he a must select for the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal as there is no one more deserving.


Name Redacted, Lieutenant Colonel, CAP
Commander

That letter got me pulled into the first sergeant's office. I remember it well.  "Corporal Bowden, now I don't know if you think you're some kind of hero or something, but who is this Lt Col and what is this medal?"  I told him not to worry about it, he was just trying to do something nice for me. A year and a half later, after a six month deployment to Bosnia, I was called up, now a Sergeant, and presented the MOVSM after they read that entire letter in front of my company.

After a break in military service, and enlisting into the Air National Guard, I got a second MOVSM, but I have no clue when or how it got there. Someone obviously put me in for it, but no fanfare or anything. It just appeared.

As for people in the military writing their own awards, it happens. Not under my watch, but I have had to write my own EPRs, 1206 award nominations for quarterly awards, and in Afghanistan, I had to write a good portion of my own medal, because no one knows what you do/did better than yourself.

Today, I am in charge of my ANG wing's awards and decorations committee and also on my CAP wing's awards committee. Just last year I created a "how to guide" for writing up military awards for first line supervisors (SSgt-TSgt) because NO ONE was getting recognized for their work. Nothing chaps my hide like when some "tough guy" says, "they're just doing their job" or "I ain't got time for that."  99% of the time, it's because they don't know how to write awards. In the past 12 months I have personally written 16 medals (4 MSMs, 5 AFCMs, and 7 AFAMs), and ALWAYS submit quarterly award packages for SNCO, NCO, and AMN of the Quarter/Year Awards.

Stonewall

Quote from: TheSkyHornet on August 19, 2020, 03:56:34 pm
Quote from: farsightusf2017 on August 18, 2020, 11:38:27 pmUsually we don't write ourselves up for awards. Ideally your leadership is involved and know what you do in your free time and if they are worth their grain in salt they do what they can to recognize you.

Only in CAP have I heard of someone telling you to "fill out the form, send it to me, and I'll sign it."


I can't tell you the number of times I've heard that in the Air Force and Air National Guard. Not under my watch, but on several occasions I've been told to write my own enlisted performance report (EPR) and other awards nomination. In Afghanistan we were told "if you want a medal, expect to have to write it yourself."

Stonewall

Quote from: coudano on August 20, 2020, 12:12:53 amPermissive TDY is not a 'verbal order' thing... it's a formal leave category, and should be taken just like any other leave (in the USAF, via leaveweb) documented, and approved by supervisor's digital signature.  That's how you avoid the circle back around and screwed over...

All my years in CAP and the military simultaneously, it wasn't until the 2019 encampment that I actually submitted for permissive TDY. When I did so in LeaveWeb, my immediate supervisor (my squadron commander) had to approve it before it got routed to the group commander (Col/O-6). I didn't realize it required O-6 approval.

JohhnyD

Quote from: Stonewall on August 22, 2020, 01:36:04 pm
Quote from: TheSkyHornet on August 19, 2020, 03:56:34 pm
Quote from: farsightusf2017 on August 18, 2020, 11:38:27 pmUsually we don't write ourselves up for awards. Ideally your leadership is involved and know what you do in your free time and if they are worth their grain in salt they do what they can to recognize you.

Only in CAP have I heard of someone telling you to "fill out the form, send it to me, and I'll sign it."


I can't tell you the number of times I've heard that in the Air Force and Air National Guard. Not under my watch, but on several occasions I've been told to write my own enlisted performance report (EPR) and other awards nomination. In Afghanistan we were told "if you want a medal, expect to have to write it yourself."
In the business world that is also the "norm", odd - but true.

PHall

Quote from: Stonewall on August 22, 2020, 01:36:04 pm
Quote from: TheSkyHornet on August 19, 2020, 03:56:34 pm
Quote from: farsightusf2017 on August 18, 2020, 11:38:27 pmUsually we don't write ourselves up for awards. Ideally your leadership is involved and know what you do in your free time and if they are worth their grain in salt they do what they can to recognize you.

Only in CAP have I heard of someone telling you to "fill out the form, send it to me, and I'll sign it."


I can't tell you the number of times I've heard that in the Air Force and Air National Guard. Not under my watch, but on several occasions I've been told to write my own enlisted performance report (EPR) and other awards nomination. In Afghanistan we were told "if you want a medal, expect to have to write it yourself."

Yep, we called it the "Right of the First Draft". It's how I learned to write EPR's.

TheSkyHornet

Quote from: Stonewall on August 22, 2020, 01:36:04 pmIn Afghanistan we were told "if you want a medal, expect to have to write it yourself."

We used to joke about that but in the sense that it was a failure on leadership to recognize performance.

Quote from: JohhnyD on August 22, 2020, 03:37:08 pm
Quote from: TheSkyHornet on August 19, 2020, 03:56:34 pmOnly in CAP have I heard of someone telling you to "fill out the form, send it to me, and I'll sign it."

In the business world that is also the "norm", odd - but true.

I certainly never heard that in the business world. If anything, I find that organizations like CAP do far more to try and recognize people than most corporations.

We actually started an Employee Recognition Committee to develop corporate commendations just before the COVID-19 catastrophe (which, of course, we had to scrap due to budgeting and resource issues thereafter).

I just absolutely cannot stand the laziness of leadership to not take the time to look into someone's record or find out more details.

This thread shows a lot of people who want to take the time to do someone nice for the sake of being nice and giving a darn about someone else. Wish I'd see more of it out there.

Eclipse

Quote from: TheSkyHornet on August 24, 2020, 02:24:04 pmI just absolutely cannot stand the laziness of leadership to not take the time to look into someone's record or find out more details.

This thread shows a lot of people who want to take the time to do someone nice for the sake of being nice and giving a darn about someone else. Wish I'd see more of it out there.

It's not always laziness.

There have been (and are) more then a few "regimes" where getting a dec approved was all but impossible.



TheSkyHornet

Quote from: Eclipse on August 24, 2020, 03:36:32 pm
Quote from: TheSkyHornet on August 24, 2020, 02:24:04 pmI just absolutely cannot stand the laziness of leadership to not take the time to look into someone's record or find out more details.

This thread shows a lot of people who want to take the time to do someone nice for the sake of being nice and giving a darn about someone else. Wish I'd see more of it out there.

It's not always laziness.

There have been (and are) more then a few "regimes" where getting a dec approved was all but impossible.

That's fair.

Take my comment as generalized, untargeted frustration.