6/4/2024  AmericanVeteranBusiness.com

Upgrading Your Military Discharge: Steps to Take and Resources Available

Former military members with less than fully honorable discharges have the opportunity to seek upgrades through their respective military department's Discharge Review Board (DRB) or Board for Correction of Military/Naval Records (BCMR or BCNR). This option remains available even years after discharge.

Encouragement from the Department of Defense

Christa Specht, director of the office of legal policy for the office of the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, emphasizes that service members who feel their discharge was unjust or erroneous should seek redress through these boards.

Understanding the Discharge Process

When a service member exits the military, their DD Form 214 outlines the reason and character of their discharge. While many receive honorable discharges, others might not. The character of the discharge significantly impacts eligibility for post-service benefits and job opportunities.

Reasons for Discharge Upgrades

Several factors can justify a discharge upgrade. For instance, conditions like traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder, which might have contributed to the discharge, may not have been fully considered initially.

Paths to Discharge Characterization Changes

There are two primary avenues for former service members to seek discharge upgrades:

  1. Discharge Review Board (DRB): Each military department has its own DRB.
  2. Board for Correction of Military or Naval Records (BCMR/BCNR): Each department also has its BCMR or BCNR.

Upgrade Discharge Application Guidance

Marines and sailors should apply to the Department of the Navy, airmen and guardians to the Department of the Air Force, and soldiers to the Department of the Army. When applying, it's crucial to clearly state the desired change and provide supporting documentation.

Upgrade Discharge Application Process

  • For Discharges within 15 Years: Apply to the DRB using DD Form 293, either by mail or electronically. Detailed instructions are available on Military OneSource.
  • For Discharges Over 15 Years Ago or After DRB Denial: Apply to the BCMR or BCNR using DD Form 149. More guidance is also available on Military OneSource.

Considerations for Applications for Discharge Upgrade

Review boards can consider post-service conduct for clemency. Applicants are encouraged to submit evidence of community reputation, character references, educational achievements, job history, expressions of remorse, or evidence of a drug-free lifestyle.

Additional Resources

For further guidance, the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs offer a joint website with personalized recommendations and an online video tutorial. The tutorial, "Overview: Applying to the Military Department Review Boards," is available on the MilLife Learning website by searching for "Discharge Review Board."

By understanding these avenues and preparing a well-documented application, former service members can navigate the process of upgrading their military discharge status.

Original Article from AmercanVeteranBusiness.com


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