Material Error Military Promotion
THIS INFORMATION SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE. YOU SHOULD STRONGLY CONSIDER THE BENEFITS OF CONSULTING WITH A TRAINED LEGAL PROFESSIONAL
A service-member’s rank determines a Soldier’s pay, retirement benefits, and prestige. Therefore, like any job, qualifying for and receiving promotions are important for all Soldiers. Often, however, service-members suffering from PTSD or other service-incurred mental conditions are passed over for valuable promotions. Why? Because of material error.
Material error, also known as material unfairness, occurs when records are erroneous or incomplete because of negligence within the military. It can occur in cases when:
- records erroneously reflect that an officer is ineligible for selection
- when evaluation reports are missing from the officer’s OMPF
- an evaluation seen by the board is modified or deleted
- another person’s documents have been incorrectly filed into the officer’s OMPF
- an award is missing from the officer’s file
- the officer’s education level is incorrect
AR 135-155 U.S. Dep’t of Army, Promotion of Commissioned Officers and Warrant Officers Other Than General Officers, Par. 3-19 (2014)
If material error is discovered in a case, the Soldier will be moved from the Promotion Selection Board (PSB) to the Special Selection Board (SSB), where she/he will get the chance to appeal his case, correct his OMPF, and possibly be promoted for another position.
Material error is often found in instances where PTSD treatment prevented a Soldier from properly preparing for a mandatory selection board, rendering his/her OMPF incomplete. One such example is the case of Benjamin Halpert, a successful Lieutenant who received numerous medals and awards.
Lieutenant Halpert’s deployment in Iraq was cut short when he developed symptoms of PTSD, and he was eventually placed in a Warrior Transition Unit for several years. Unfortunately, his anxiety and PTSD did not subside, forcing the PEB to order his medical retirement. During Lieutenant Halpert’s medical hold, he became eligible for promotion. Lieutenant Halpert was never informed of his upcoming selection boards while he was in WTU. Additionally, due to his PTSD’s severity, Lieutenant Halpert found it impossible to quality check his board file and verify his Officer Record Brief that would be sent the Selection Board. His selection board packet was therefore missing several OERs and his deployment in Iraq.
Through no fault of Lieutenant Halpert, the PSB denied advancement in a materially unfair manner when it denied promotion without having all material facts at its disposal. It is important that all service members are given equal opportunity to receive promotions, and therefore crucial that material error is corrected quickly and impartially.