With the right factors in place, you may apply to have less-than-Honorable discharges upgraded or have the reason for your discharge officially changed. You may also have the ability to change a discharge to a medical retirement, change re-enlistment codes so you can re-enlist or move to another branch, or even, rarely, reinstate you.
In addition to the ability to change post-separation characterizations, each individual Service provides a process for active duty and reservist Servicemembers to change, correct, or appeal certain military records or “bad paper.” This can include unfair pass-over for promotion, Article 15/NJPs, formal counseling paper, letters of reprimand, and inaccurate or unfair Performance Reviews or Fitness Reports.
There are two separate Boards for each service branch that reviews discharges: The Discharge Review Board and the Board for Correction of Military/Naval Records.
Five senior officers serve on the Discharge Review Board (DRB) for each separate service. Not only may this Board correct Administrative Discharges (Other than Honorable and General Under Honorable Conditions), they may also upgrade Bad Conduct Discharges received in Special Courts-Martial. These Boards may also change the reason for discharge. These boards cannot change re-enlistment codes or pull or correct records or “bad paper.” The “statute of limitations” to make an appeal to this board is 15 years from the date of your discharge.
Every Brach also has its own separate Board for Correction of Military (or Naval) Records (BCMR) that can hear appeals from DRB decisions, upgrade discharges, change a separation to a Medical Retirement, change a re-enlistment codes, or correct other records or “bad paper,” even those of an active duty Servicemember. The “statute of limitations” deadline to get a package into this board is 3 years from the discharge or unfavorable DRB decision. However, for good cause, the 3-year deadline is often waived.
Veterans and Servicemembers may elect to be heard in person or by just submitting their application forms, packages, and supporting evidence. However, you may choose to initially submit just an application to the Board, receive an answer, then re-apply and request an in person appearance with yourself or with an attorney. In this regard, you essentially get two separate opportunities to have your case heard before either Board.
It is a myth that you get an automatic upgrade after 6 months. The discharge upgrade rates are generally low. When veterans and servicemembers simply submit the forms, do not assemble a complete package, and do not appear in person when allowed, the chances are even lower.
But it is also a myth that upgrades or corrections are impossible to get. When you have an advocate (1) dedicated to making your case, (2) submitting intelligent evidence, (3) insuring all procedural requirements are timely and properly met, (4) crafting an effective and persuasive written package, and if necessary and permitted, (5) traveling to the site of the Board hearing, and (6) pleading your case both in written and oral presentation, you stand a much higher chance of success.
Discharge Upgrades for Those Diagnosed with PTSD
All services have written requirements that diagnoses of PTSD/TBI be taken into account before a General Under Honorable Conditions or Other than Honorable Discharge is given to a member with those diagnoses. Yet, in the vast majority of cases, that requirement has been just a check in the box before an unfavorable discharge is awarded anyway.
However, on September 3, 2014, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel issued a memo directing the discharge upgrade boards to start giving “liberal consideration” to all veterans who got an “undesirable” discharge from the military and even showed any symptoms meeting PTSD diagnostic criteria in their medical record. Thus, a formal diagnosis of PTSD does not need to have been present at the time of your separation. Additionally, you may base the application upon a subsequent PTSD diagnosis by a civilian doctor. The Boards are instructed to “full and carefully consider every petition based on PTSD brought by each veteran.”
Now is the time to petition for the discharge you deserve as a war veteran living with PTSD/TBI.
Thorough and Intelligent Representation in Your Corner
If you received adverse military action that was “erroneous” or “unjust,” Aaron Meyer stands ready to advocate for you in the DRB/BCMR process. Do not simply give up and accept an administrative action or discharge process that was truly inaccurate or unjust. Success rates are not always high. But if you have a case and pursue it properly, there is hope. It could mean a lifetime of benefits. It could mean the difference between a less than honorable discharge and a medical retirement. It could mean that you save your career by removing some negative material in your personnel file.
When you are ready to see how Aaron Meyer Law can build a Military Correction Board case for you, call 949-388-3654 or fill out the form below for a free consultation.