Example Letter to the Board

Well board season is in full bloom. People are calling 1800-U-ASK-NPC with a myriad of questions about their package and the rules and regs governing the board. Beyond ensuring your record is up to date and accurate a letter to the board  is your most valuable tool. 

Here’s an example of a Letter to the Board that I wrote based on my review of packages during a previous selection board. Good letters are effective in communicating the “other stuff” to the briefer. Writing one of these can feel like you’re blowing your own horn, but its literally the only way you can fill the gaps in your record with narrative to give the briefer a sense of who you are and what you do.

Be careful though, if your language is too flowery or full of bullshido, it’ll get glazed over without a mention. This is a tactical document with a strategic goal, getting you selected. To quote Sherlock Holmes, give them straw with which to build bricks.  Or in Marine parlance, there is no fire support without ammo. 

Every senior officer wants to be a king-maker in “The Tank” and I watched more than 1 O-6,7,8 try to make a selectee from scratch. Do them a favor and give them overwhelming evidence why you should be selected. 

This won’t cover for glaring misses or poor performance for the past 5 years, but it gives you the chance to explain anomalies and have your story heard.

Where this ammo becomes invaluable is in the crunch. Two candidates side by side with the same record, the bid likely goes to the one with better advertising.

I’ve swapped out the PII details for more humorous items to keep the reading interesting, but the form and intent are clear. This is your last resort to tell the board how awesome you really are.

From: LT Quinton M. McHale, USN, SSN (123-45-678910-11-12)/ 1115


Ref: (a) SECNAVINST 1420.1 (series)

Encl: (1) Fitness Report for the period 14FEB01-15JAN31

Sir or Ma’am,

Thank you to the board for considering me for promotion to O-4. Being a Naval Officer is one of my proudest achievements, and I look forward to future opportunities to serve and lead in the Navy. Below I have provided some points for your consideration while briefing my record:

1. I had 1 PRT failure onboard the USS CHUNDERBUCKET during Cycle 1 2010, but I have since lost 40lbs and changed my lifestyle with regard to diet and exercise.

2. In my civilian job, I serve as the Assistant Vice President of Inland Harbors Incorporated in Bluff City, TN. We are a Western Rivers harbor and fleeting service for towboats and big-ass barges. We are a 24/7 marine port operations company as well as a full service barge and towboat repair shipyard.

My responsibilities for the company include the following:

A. Maintenance and repair for 24 towboats, 4 mobile dry docks, 4 cranes and a wharf facility made up of 8 barges and a floating office building.

B. Maintenance support for 6 outlying locations between Bourbon County, Kentucky and Moonshine, MS.

C. Port manager for operations in Mosquito Haven, Arkansas.

D. USCG, EPA and DOT Compliance manager.

E. Assistant contracting manager for USCG Buoy Tender yard periods (8 overhauls completed in 2014 including 3 vessels with complete engine repowers)

F. Boat operator of the M/V DIRT SQUIRREL – a 600hp truckable push-boat

G. Leadership, direction and influence over 150 people across the entirety of our operations.

H. Skilled labor recruiting for welders and mechanics. Advisory board member of local community colleges representing the needs of local industry.

3. As a reservist, I have been working to establish a SURGEMAIN Shipyard Support Unit at NOSC Hometown with sailors in the OPS Support Unit. There is a Sea Bee unit that is decommissioning and we are working hard to cross-rate those sailors into SURGEMAiN to improve their opportunities for advancement. Currently being established as a detachment under NOSC Somewhereelse, we have 20 sailors interested in joining the SURGEMAIN ranks. As the detachment grows, our goal is to establish a separate SURGEMAIN UIC under NOSC Hometown complete with APPLY selected leadership. Additionally, SURGEMAIN rates make a great hiring pool for the River industry. We have already succeeded in finding a civilian job for a First Class Machinist Mate on the river.

4. I have completed the Strategy and War segment of JPME.

5. I am also the Director of Finance of Mama’s Home Business LLC, an online boutique specializing in the production sales and custom embroidery of high quality baby and children’s clothing. I oversea purchasing from overseas suppliers, seamstress contracting, equipment maintenance and general book keeping.

6. As a personal project, I am the leading member of a small cohort of reserve Naval Officers from NOSC Hometown who manage a website called www.thecitizensailor.com. The mission of The Citizen Sailor is to be resource for new reservists who are transitioning from active duty to understand how to succeed in the reserve world. We are using our reserve mentors and experiences to write how-to articles on reserve career management, VA issues, etc.

7. Per reference (a), please include enclosure (1) in my official record for consideration by the FY16 RESERVE LINE O-4 SELECTION BOARD. Due to inclement weather and rescheduled drills, I have enclosed my most recent fitness report to ensure its inclusion in my package for the board.

Very Respectfully,


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