Now that you have recovered from shock after reading the letter you just got in the mail denying you eligibility for a security clearance, you now have to pull yourself together and decide if you want to submit an appeal to the next level. If you do, then you need to start gathering information for your response.  Depending on the types of issues in your case, you could possibly need financial documents, court records, substance abuse counseling course completion certificates, or some other information that addresses the issues at hand. One of the things that many clearance applicants don’t consider when responding to a Statement of Reasons (SOR) is the importance of presenting character references.

Character References Can Help Win a Security Clearance Appeal

Character references, if prepared and credible, can sway a judge to rule favorably on your appeal. However, in order for them to be effective they have to be aware of the good and the bad about you. If they don’t know why your clearance was denied then it makes it seem like they don’t really know you or that you have intentionally hidden information from them that you find embarrassing. To avoid this you should provide them full disclosure of the issues if they don’t already know so that if asked, they can speak knowledgably on your behalf and show the judge that despite the adverse information or circumstances involved, they still believe you are reliable, trustworthy and honest.  The testimony of people that know you from work, school, church, leisure activities or your neighborhood who can attest to your character and provide a positive recommendation could be the difference between a denial being upheld or it being overturned and getting granted a security clearance.

When your character reference understands the reason for your denial, they will be better poised to respond to the issue. Look for references who you have known for a number of years, and just as you should avoid listing character references as verifiers on your security clearance application, you should avoid using relatives as a character reference if possible.

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Marko Hakamaa served in various military police positions with the United States Army worldwide for 22 years before retiring in 2006 as a Master Sergeant. Afterwards, he transitioned into the civilian workforce as a contractor background investigator for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) before entering civil service as a Security Specialist in 2009.