Assuming you are at least in zone or above zone, the answer is yes if:
- You are above-zone and wish to be considered for promotion. You will be considered whether you send a letter or not, but you should always send a letter to demonstrate interest in getting promoted when you are above zone. In general, you should try to get letters of recommendation from the most senior members who know you well enough to discuss your contributions to the Navy and why you should get promoted. For example, it is probably better to get a letter from an O6 who knows you well than to get a letter from an O8 who does not. Your specialty leader is always a solid choice as a letter writer if you are unsure who to get one from.
- You are reporting to a new command before the FITREP cycle and your Commanding Officer is willing to write a positive letter about your contributions to your new command.
- You have issues in your record or career that require explanation or amplifying information. For example, you want to tell the promotion board how promotion to the next rank will allow you to do something you can’t do at your present rank, like screen for XO. If there are any gaps in your military service or any new information not on your FITREPs, these may need explanation as well.
- You have to make corrections/additions to your record (like missing or illegible FITREPs, awards, academic or professional achievements, etc.) but you either don’t have time to update them the standard way or your have tried without success.
THINGS TO REMEMBER
There are a few things to keep in mind:
- After the board is finished, anything you sent is discarded. You cannot permanently update your record by sending documentation to the board.
- By law, a letter to the board must be considered. In other words, if you don’t want the board to discuss a topic, don’t mention it in a letter. If there is adverse information in your record, sending a letter discussing it may help if you have amplifying information to add. Then again, if it is something they might not have noticed, sending a letter discussing it ensures that they will notice it!
- Your Commanding Officer usually should not write a letter if he/she has done a FITREP on you, as his/her opinion should be reflected in the FITREP.
- They are usually not recommended if you are in-zone unless there is a reason to send a letter listed above. Do not send one just for the fun of it.
- Keep the length of letters to a minimum – one page or less – as boards have to read everything that is sent to them.
- Do not send copies of publications.
- Only the service member can send the letter on his/her behalf. In other words, if you have a letter from an admiral, you need to send it to the board. Don’t have the admiral’s aide send it because it will just get shredded and will not be briefed to the board.
- Your letter must arrive no later than the day before (2359) the board convenes.
HOW DO I WRITE/SEND THE LETTER?