A TITLE IS EARNED.… How to Address a Retired Lt Col


Fox News Channel’s The Five, co-host Bob Beckel expressed his dis­plea­sure with Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Allen West’s com­ments about the Democ­rats at the Lin­coln Day Din­ner.  Mr. Beckel con­tin­u­ously referred to Rep­re­sen­ta­tive West as Mr. West while crit­i­ciz­ing his views.  Co-host Eric Bowl­ing cor­rectly pointed out to Beckel that he should be refer­ring to Allen West as Rep­re­sen­ta­tive or Lt Col Allen West because he had earned both titles.

Here is what eti­quette states:

Although Rep­re­sen­ta­tive or Congressman/Congresswoman are not tra­di­tional hon­orific titles, they do express the person’s cur­rent posi­tion and can be used to refer to the person.

The for­mal form of Mr. (name) or Ms. (name) should be used when address­ing an enve­lope as shown below.

Enve­lope, offi­cial:
The Hon­or­able
(Full name)
United States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives

The proper form for Lieu­tenant Colonel would be Lt Col with­out peri­ods.  You do not need to use Retired unless you were address­ing an offi­cial enve­lope.  In which case you should use “…

Clark­son, USAF Retired” or “…Clark­son, USAF Ret.”

See exam­ples below for the dif­fer­ences between an offi­cial enve­lope and a social envelope.

For­mal forms for an “offi­cial” enve­lope would be:
        Lieu­tenant Colonel  Joe M. Clark­son, USAF, Retired
                and Mrs. Clark­son
For­mal forms for a “social” enve­lope would be:
        Lieu­tenant Colonel  Joe M. Clark­son
                and Mrs. Clark­son

       Lt Col Joe M. Clark­son
                and Mrs. Clark­son

Whether you agree or dis­agree with some­one, you should show them the proper respect by refer­ring to them using the title(s) they have earned.