Serving in the armed forces is something of which many in the United States are proud. Some decide right after high school to join a certain branch of the military, postponing college, marriage and career paths to serve the country in whatever way they can. It is not an easy life, especially if the government deploys you to harsh corners of the globe.
Just like in any society, military life has its ups and downs when it comes to getting along and following the many regulations, and you may have experienced some difficulties that caused you struggles. However, now that you have returned to civilian life, you are disappointed and perhaps shocked to learn that your military record contains negative and unfair information about your time in the service. Is there anything you can do to fix that?
How to appeal
A clean military record can get you places in life. Likewise, a record with negative marks for your character, misconduct, a break in your service time or other reasons may affect your chances of fulfilling your goals or taking advantage of many opportunities in life. You may also miss out on important government and VA benefits. However, if your discharge does not accurately reflect your time of service, you may be able to make a case for having your discharge status modified by taking these steps:
- Check with the appropriate administrative offices to have the mistake corrected. If you skip this step and go straight to the Discharge Review Board, it is likely that board will return your application to you without taking any action.
- Submit a performance report appeal to the corrections board for the branch of the military in which you served.
- Carefully complete DD Form 149, which is the application to correct a military record.
- Provide signed statements from witnesses who have direct knowledge of the error on your service record.
- Submit any other information that may support your cause, such as medical records or a statement from your counselor.
- Include character references from those who can attest to your service and post-service accomplishments, if this is applicable.
- Sign your form and mail it to the address that matches your branch of the service.
One of your decisions early in the process may also be to seek the assistance of an attorney who has experience with military law and before administrative boards. In fact, if you name your attorney as your representative, you may not have to deal with the stress of appearing before the board. Your California attorney can handle that for you if it is necessary. If the board accepts your appeal, you may be eligible to seek any financial benefits you lost due to the error.