How to Write a Letter for an Army Officer

by Eva Talent

Army officer kneeling in the snow with gun.

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Army officers are professionals; they generally hold positions equivalent to executives in the civilian workforce. Whether you are a service member or a civilian yourself, writing a letter intended for a military officer requires the same amount of courtesy. Follow Army protocol to ensure your letter is received in the spirit it was intended. Using military guidelines, such as those outlined in Army Regulation 25-50, can help you craft an effective letter for an Army officer.

Determine the name and rank of the officer to which you are addressing your letter. Do not call an officer by his first name in a letter. Instead, refer to him as "Captain Smith" or "Brigadier General Jones." Use the officer's full rank when addressing him in print. In lieu of using his rank and name combination, you can refer to male officers as "Sir" and female officers as "Ma'am." AR 25-50 states that these terms must be capitalized when used, as if they are the officer's proper name, even if they occur in mid-sentence. For example, you would write, "Thank you for your attention to this matter, Sir."

Read and follow the requirements in Section 3-7 of AR 25-50 to determine the format of your letter.

Create your heading. Your heading must include the date, to whom the officer should reply and an address.

Write the body of the letter. AR 25-50 suggests keeping each paragraph of your letter under 10 lines. Single space the body of your letter.

Include a point of contact and a telephone number as the last sentence of your letter. It is common Army practice to refer to the point of contact as the "POC." For example, writing "POC for this letter is Mrs. Jane Jackson at (888) 555-1212" is the standard method of addressing the point of contact issue.

Type in the center of the page, "Respectfully," or "Very Respectfully," as a complimentary close. Leave five blank lines and type your full name. If you are a civilian, use your salutation as well. If you are a service member, include your rank and use your typical Army signature block.

Refer to Figure 3-1 in AR 25-50 to ensure your letter is in the correct format before you send it.

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About the Author

A professional writer since 1994, Eva Talent was trained as a journalist by the U.S. Army. She received two Army Commendation Medals and an Army Achievement Medal for journalistic excellence. Her press releases are frequently featured on the websites of the Department of Defense and the Army. Talent holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Michigan.