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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Military Lawyer
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 33642
Experience:  Retired Marine Corps lawyer and Veterans Services Officer (VSO) with 12+ yrs. of experience.
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What are the rules old photos of myself in US Army uniform

Customer Question

What are the rules for using old photos of myself in US Army uniform in my Real Estate business advertisements in a collage style including photos of me in civilian clothes. What is the disclaimer I have to put on the advertisement?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Military Law
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.

The issue will be what is your current connection with the army? Are you still on active duty or in the reserves?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
we spoke the other day, you answered my question on the resignation bit. I am currently still in the Army reserve. I asked this question previously to our JAG a couple years back about using a single photo of me in my dress uniform for my business cards. The answer I received was no to the solo photo but something to the effect of the advertisement cannot be solely about one photo and that it has to be in some sort of collage. I read in some of the DOD directives about it, I have to put some kind of disclaimer on the advertisement that the DOD and US Army does not endorse my business. I tried doing some research but was only really able to find the rules about politicians using their old military photos in campaign ads.The advertisement I am doing is a post card mailer for real estate that looks very similar to what other real estate agents send. with a picture of a house on one side etc etc. and on the other a collage of my current professional Realtor photo along with a few photos of my old photos over the past 20 years showing me age. Mostly headshots and some in civilian clothes with a few bullet statements:
1. something to the effect about my 20 years of service,
2. let me serve you as a your dedicated Realtor
3. Serving Orange county area I serve.In some of the photos it has other soldiers one or two US and some Indonesian, do I need to cut them out? the photos do not depict any actions. Just me smiling people and also a shot of me and a friend in civilian clothes at a US Embassy sign in Jakarta, Indonesia but the sign doesn't say where it is.From what i understand I can use the photos but it has to be in the right context and with the right disclaimer added to it?
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.

Thank you

The regulation that applies is department of defense directive 5500.7 – R. This is the joint ethics regulation.

This regulation makes it a crime to use your military status for personal gain. There is no disclaimer provision; the issue will be if you're using your government position in the military to benefit personally.

If you're still in the reserves? I would not use pictures of yourself to advertise your business. That could lead to prosecution under the joint ethics regulation.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
what about stating my years of service and using the photo of me in civilian clothes at the embassy sign?
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.

You are taking a risk by doing that. If your commander was so inclined they could perform an investigation and potentially prosecute you under the joint ethics regulation. If they could demonstrate you are attempting to use your status in the military to boost your business? That would be a violation of the law.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Once I am retired or discharged can I use the photos?can i state on the postcard in text only with out any photos how many years of service i have and branch?
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. Once you no longer are in the military you can use the photos however you please. There is no law against using the photographs except if you are in the military.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What about using text and no photos on the postcard stating my years or service, branch, etc?Using the American flag perhaps stating I support veterans?
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.

The key provision is you were not permitted to benefit personally from your current service. Stating you're a veteran, you support veterans, not a problem. The line is if you try to leverage your current position for personal profit. That could be considered a crime.

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