2021 Update – What Should You Do If You Didn’t Promote?

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If you are particularly interested in this post, I’m sorry. You or someone you care about probably failed to promote. In reality, nowadays it is normal and expected to fail to promote to O5 and O6, so you have company. Here are my suggestions for those that fail to promote.

Try to Figure Out Why You Didn’t Promote

First, try to figure out why you didn’t promote. Because the promotion board members are not allowed to speak about your board, you’ll never actually find out why you failed to promote, but you can usually take a pretty educated guess if you talk to the right people (like me).

If any of these things happened to you, they are likely a main reason you didn’t promote:

  • Any PFA/BCA failures.
  • Legal issues, such as a DUI or any other legal trouble.
  • Failure to become board certified.

There are other things that could happen to you that make it difficult but not impossible to promote. They include:

  • You have not been operational or deployed at all, or you have done so much less than your peers. The FY22 O6 promotion board materials emphasized that everyone needs to be operational.
  • Coming into zone while in you were in GME.
  • Having non-observed (NOB) fitreps before the board, such as those in full-time outservice training.
  • Spending too much time in the fleet as a GMO, Flight Surgeon, or UMO. This is mostly because it causes you to come into zone for O5 while you are still in GME, and is more of a problem if your residency is long.
  • Never getting a competitive early promote (EP) fitrep. Many officers who fail to select have never had a competitive EP fitrep in their current rank. This can be because they were stationed places without competitive groups and they get 1/1 fitreps, or it can be because they were in a competitive group and did not break out and get an EP. To me this is the #1 ingredient to promote…competitive EP fitreps. If you don’t have them, you are really up against it unless you are in a senior operational position that carries a lot of weight.
  • Receiving potentially adverse fitreps. This most commonly happens when you are at an operational command and your reporting senior is not someone who is used to ranking Medical Corps officers, although it could happen for other reasons (like your reporting senior felt you deserved this type of fitrep). The most common situation would be if there is a competitive group of 2 officers but both are given must promote (MP) fitreps instead of 1 getting an EP and the other the MP. When both get an MP, it reflects poorly on both officers unless the reason for this is CLEARLY explained in the fitrep narrative, which it often is not. The other thing that happens is that a reporting senior gives you a 1/1 MP instead of a 1/1 EP. If you are ever getting a 1/1 fitrep, make sure you get an EP. You should consider getting a 1/1 MP an adverse fitrep. If there is no way around this, often because the reporting senior has a policy that they don’t give newly promoted officers an EP, make sure that this policy is clear in the fitrep narrative.
  • Having a declining fitrep. Mostly this happens when you go from getting an EP to an MP on your fitrep under the same reporting senior. If it is because you changed competitive groups, like you went from being a resident to a staff physician, that is understandable and not a negative. If you didn’t change competitive groups, though, make sure the reason you declined is explained.
  • Making it obvious to the promotion board that you didn’t update your record. The most obvious ways a promotion board will know you didn’t update your record is if your Officer Summary Record (OSR) is missing degrees that you obviously have (like your MD or DO) or if many of the sections of your OSR are either completely blank or required updating by the board recorders. Remember that although promotion board recorders will correct your record for you, anything they do and any corrections they make are annotated to the board. While a few corrections are OK, you don’t want a blank record that the recorders had to fill in. It demonstrates that you didn’t update your record.

Who Actually Promotes?

So who actually promotes to O5 and O6? In general, the officer who promotes has:

  • Achieved board certification.
  • Spent time in both a military treatment facility and in the operational setting.
  • A demonstrated history of excellence as an officer. In other words, whenever they are in a competitive group, they successfully break out and get an EP fitrep. Being average is just not good enough anymore.
  • No PFA failures, legal problems, declining fitreps, or potentially adverse fitreps.
  • Updated their record, and if they previously failed to select they reviewed their record with their Detailer and actively worked to improve it.

What Do You Do If You Failed to Promote?

Realize that it is not the end of the world. Based on the recent promotion board statistics (which you can get in the Promo Prep), most officers were passed over for O5 or O6, but a large number of the officers selected were from the above zone group.

If you do nothing, you will continue to get looked at by promotion boards until you retire, resign, or are forced out of the Navy. There is no limit to the number of chances you get to promote and your record will be evaluated for promotion every year. That said…

You need to try to promote. Consider sending a letter to the promotion board. What do you say in this letter? First, briefly state that you want to be promoted and to continue your career in the Navy. Second, explain what a promotion would allow you to do that you can’t do at your current rank. Answer the question, “Why should they promote you?”

For example, if you want to be a Department Head at a large military treatment facility (MTF), a senior operational leader, or a Residency Director (or whatever you want to do), tell them that you need to be promoted to be competitive for these jobs. The Navy wants to promote leaders. Make it clear to them that you are a motivated future leader.

Try and get letters of support to attach to your letter. These letters should be from the most senior officers who can personally attest to your value to the Navy. In other words, it is probably better to get a letter from an O6 who knows you well than a 3 star who doesn’t. If you are not sure who to ask for letters, ask those more senior to you or your Detailer for advice. Your Specialty Leader is always someone to consider if he/she knows you well and can speak to your contributions to the specialty and Navy.

Have your record reviewed by your Detailer, Specialty Leader, other trusted senior advisor, or by me. Because of promotion board confidentiality, you will never know the reason(s) you did not promote, but most of the time experienced reviewers can come up with an educated guess. They’ll often find things that you were not even aware of, like potentially adverse fitreps, or information missing from your record. My promo prep document will help you as well.

Do everything you can to get “early promote” or “EP” fitreps. This is largely accomplished by continually striving for positions of increased leadership. You need to get a job that has historically led to a promotion while keeping in mind that the new MC career path emphasizes that all need to be operational.

As a LCDR who got passed over for CDR, try to get one of these jobs and excel at it (this list is not exhaustive and these positions are not the only path to CDR, but they are a good start):

  • Assistant Program Director
  • Division/Department Head
  • Fleet Surgical Team (FST) Specialty Staff
  • Global Health Engagement (GHE) Staff Officer
  • Group/Senior Flight Surgeon (FS)
  • Medical Battalion Specialty Staff
  • Medical Executive Committee (MEC) Member
  • Regimental Surgeon
  • Senior Undersea Medical Officer (UMO)
  • Ship or Group Senior Medical Officer (SMO)
  • SMO/Medical Director

If you are a CDR who got passed over for CAPT, try to get one of these jobs and excel at it:

  • Assistant Specialty Leader or Specialty Leader
  • Chief Medical Officer (CMO)
  • Director/Large Department Head at a NMRTC/MTF
  • Division/Group/Wing Surgeon
  • FST Officer-in-Charge (OIC) / CATF Surgeon
  • GHE, Headquarters, or Navy Personnel Command (PERS) Staff
  • Group UMO
  • MEC Chair
  • OIC
  • Program Director
  • Senior GHE Billet

Meet with your chain-of-command. After you’ve been passed over is not the time to be passive. You need to sit down with your leadership and get an honest assessment from them of how you’re doing and what they would recommend continuing to advance your career. You may not like what you hear, but it is better to find out early if they don’t think you’re doing a good job or that you are unlikely to break out on your fitreps. That way you can try and put yourself in a better situation by changing commands.

Things You Should Not Do

In addition to the above list of things you should do, there are a few things you should not do:

  • Do not lie in your letter to the board. In other words, don’t tell them you want to do Executive Medicine if you don’t really want to. Your record reads like a book, and if it tells a story that is contrary to what your letter says, this is unlikely to help you and may hurt you.
  • Do not send long correspondence. Promotion boards have to read everything sent to them, and a long letter may not be appreciated. Keep it brief and to the point.
  • Do not ask your current CO to write you a letter to the board if they’ve done an observed fitrep on you. His or her opinion about you should be reflected on that fitrep, so they don’t need to write you a letter. If they’ve never given you an observed fitrep or there is some new information not reflected on prior fitreps, they could either write you a letter or give you a special fitrep. Ultimately it is up to them whether they do either of these or none.
  • Do not discuss anything adverse unless you want the board to notice and discuss it. This issue comes up frequently and people will ask me for advice, but ultimately it is up to the individual officer. The one thing I can guarantee is that if you send a letter to the board and discuss something adverse, they will notice it because they will read your letter! If you think there is a chance the adverse matter will get overlooked, it is probably better not to mention it and keep your fingers crossed.

Never Stop Trying

Those are my tips for those who find themselves above zone. Most importantly, if you want to promote, NEVER STOP TRYING. You can usually stay in as a LCDR for 20 years, and I personally know of people who got promoted their 9th look!

SG’s Conversations with Authors – “On Call in Hell: A Doctor’s Iraq War Story” by CDR(r) Richard Jadick – Tomorrow!

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On Tuesday, 8 June 2021 at 1200 Eastern the Surgeon General of the Navy will be speaking with CDR (ret.) Richard Jadick on Facebook Live as part of the “Conversations with the Authors” Series.   The topic of conversation will be  Dr. Jadick’s book On Call in Hell: A Doctor’s Iraq War Story.   As a Facebook Live event this will be open to the Enterprise and we encourage all BUMED personnel to watch on the BUMED Facebook site:


A flyer about this event is attached and hope you can all attend:

Basic FY22 O6 Promotion Board Stats

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You can see all the basic stats for the promotion board here:

FY22 O6 Staff Corps Promotion List is Out!

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R 041452Z JUN 21 MID200000911916U




ALNAV 045/21





RMKS/1.  I am pleased to announce the following Staff Corps Officers on the
Active-Duty list for promotion to the permanent grade of Captain.

2.  This message is not authority to deliver appointments.  Authority to
effect promotion will normally be issued by future NAVADMINs requiring
NAVPERS 1421/7 preparation and forwarding of document to PERS-806.

3.  Frocking is not authorized for any officer listed below until specific
authorization is received per SECNAVINST 1420.2B.

4.  For proper alphabetical order read from left to right on each line.  The
numbers following each name to the right indicate the relative seniority
among selectees within each competitive category.  Note:  An (*) by the name
indicates the selectee was merit reordered to the top of the promotion list
in accordance with reference (a).  Members are directed to verify their
select status via BUPERS Online.
                             Medical Corps
Arnold Michael John          0008  Banks Steven Reid            0034
Barry Michael J              0023  Budzik Carol Lynn            0041
Byrd Kevin Andrew            0043  Cardoso Mario Jorge *        0001
Clark Max Arnold II          0047  Coan Erin Blaire             0019
Demitrack James Gus          0036  Dierks Joy Ursula            0037
Do Tai Anh                   0049  Drinkwine Benjamin J         0046
Elliot Jonathan Neil         0032  Elliott Daniel P             0027
Espiritu Samuel G            0022  Fowler Ian M                 0042
Frye Marcia Lynne            0038  Gordon Jason Andrew          0028
Hoang Thanh Duc              0048  Holston Alexander M          0018
Humphries Ashley E           0026  Hurst Donald William *       0003
Hurst Nicole Danielle        0009  Kidd Grant Adam              0031
Klimpel Thad Donald          0044  Knipp Brian S                0050
Krause Robert J              0030  Landers John Thomas          0024
Laughlin Ian Michael         0012  Leonard Sean P               0015
Lund Mark Frederic           0040  Lutgendorf Monica A          0035
Marks Robert Murray          0013  Mcdowell Jacqueline C *      0002
Miller Nancy L               0051  Mingo Alicea Marie           0033
Mondzelewski Todd J          0016  Moyadelpino Nicolas B        0045
Nguyen William B             0025  Oreilly Eamon Boyce *        0006
Rockwood Jason H             0039  Servies Tammy E              0014
Sheu Robert Gregory          0021  Smith Linda Colleen D *      0005
Solomon James Benjamin       0017  Stegnerwilson Melissa        0011
Tilley Drake H               0010  Tuttle Ralph Edwin           0020
Velazquez Torrin W *         0007  Worlton Tamara Jean          0029
                             Dental Corps
Burns Casey Jean *           0001  Checchi Mitchell Roger       0009
Collinsdeisley Carey H       0019  Dart Matthew C               0005
Franzke Joseph Jackson *     0003  Giauque Frederic             0007
Guerrieri Brian James        0006  Haveman Kevin Wade           0014
Henson Joshua Frederic       0011  Hilley Jeffrey William       0010
Jorden Monserrat             0012  Liu David Zen                0018
Noordmans Caleb J            0020  Pasieta Scott Anthony *      0002
Pavel Robert David           0004  Rasmussen Bryan Paul         0017
Smith Jennifer Lynn          0013  Tinucci Raymond F            0008
Ward Nicole Gay              0016  Wier Kirstin Caye            0015
                             Medical Service Corps
Barnes Timothy David *       0001  Chieves Lakesha Ann          0019
Cline Tiffany Faye           0016  Cooper Christopher L         0008
Dagnachew Eskinder           0003  Dietrich Erich J             0017
Gaskin Adrian Darnelle       0010  Goad Robert Dean             0014
Isaacson Cary James          0006  Kee Kyle Edward              0018
Lang David George            0005  Marty Stephen Anthony *      0002
Olson Nichole Amina          0004  Pyles Jeremy Shawn           0015
Ray Chadwick Edward          0009  Scheeler William R           0011
Senko Robert Patrick         0013  Smith Elizabeth              0012
Vanmoerkerque Jacquel        0007
                             Judge Advocate General’s Corps
Butler Derek                 0006  Grant Trevor James           0004
Higson Danielle Marie        0001  Larsen Hayes C               0003
Padilla Geraldo              0007  Sullivan Sean Michael        0005
Troyan Brent E               0002
                             Nurse Corps
Baldassano Accursia A *      0003  Baudek Aric Vincent          0019
Baudek Rachel Ryan           0013  Bonds Raymond L              0011
Bradford Glenn Allen         0022  Brender Timothy P            0010
Brosinski Carmen Maria       0016  Cook Wendy Anne              0004
Cortez Tymesia V             0009  Cottrell Cheryl Lee          0007
Fuentes Neva R               0020  Hollis Anne Seton H          0005
Kasuske Lalon M              0006  Luna Catherine Anne*         0002
Maldarellidrey Jill M        0014  Malloy Craig Thomas *        0001
Stewart Kathryn M R          0023  Vernon Tarail                0017
Wallace Jerrol B             0015  Weldon Edwardo C             0018
Williams Jacqueline R        0008
                             Supply Corps
Bannister Anthony Paul       0023  Benham William T             0001
Diaz Andres                  0003  Dillon Jeretta Rae           0019
Elston Josh Andrew           0009  Freeman Timothy Ray          0017
Gabriel Terri Lynn           0008  Henwood Andrew Emile         0025
Hill Joshua Robert           0026  James Robert J               0004
Jones Bari Jarrod            0015  Jones David Kent Jr          0016
Kelly Patrick Joseph         0005  Kim Frank Dong               0014
Kovack Robert G Jr           0013  Lancaster Joshua Todd        0012
Lee Evelyn Collier           0028  Mcnulty Kevin Sean           0024
Reilly Bruce M II            0027  Saucedo Pamela R             0011
Tan Horacio Garcia           0007  Tate Monica Renee            0022
Tipton John Howard           0006  Vetsch Daniel Joseph         0021
Wallace Larry Scott          0010  Wharton Rachele Anne         0018
Wilson Michael Robert        0002
                             Chaplain Corps
Bowden Jennifer Dianne       0006  Ekstrom Randall Danger       0002
Fuson Jaisen Eric            0013  Hall Robert Wayne            0003
Hlavin William Alan          0004  Kersten Jay Joseph           0009
Michaelis Kurt A             0011  Peugh James Murle            0007
Quinn Jeffrey                0010  Rutledge Clifford P          0012
Solomon William Nathan       0008  Stroud David Aaron           0005
                             Civil Engineer Corps
Adamah Sylvester C           0005  Benton Greggory A            0006
Brown Troy M *               0002  Eyrich Catherine U           0011
Fichter Stephen J            0003  Jasinski Jared Adam          0015
Lockhart Jason Howard        0013  Matvay David M Jr            0014
Mccain Michael William       0009  Mccarthy Ancelmo J           0004
Padhi Stephen T              0012  Richer Jeffrey Arthur        0007
Stiles Robert Douglas *      0001  Strieter Juliana M           0008
Taylor Preston Dennis        0010  Williams Matthew T           0016

5.  Released by the Honorable Thomas W. Harker, Acting Secretary of the


The Final Week! Support the Blog by Donating to My Brother’s Trek Across the US to Fight Cancer

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My brother Jarad is famous for having run every street and alley in Washington DC:

A DC Man Ran Every Single Street (and Alley) in DC

He scored a sabbatical from his teaching job and is using it to walk/run across the entire US, Forrest Gump style, to fight cancer. If you’ve ever appreciated the blog, you can show it by donating to his cause here:


He’s chronicling his journey on Instagram if you want to follow along and see how he’s doing. He’s made it to Virginia from Los Angeles and is scheduled to finish in the Atlantic Ocean in Virginia Beach in 1 week!