For almost anyone who has been discharged from military service, the character of your discharge matters. A negative discharge status like dishonorable discharge or bad-conduct discharge will remain on your record and follow you for the rest of your life. An other-than-honorable discharge could result in loss of military benefits and practical roadblocks to your post-military career. Further, there is a sense of respect and honor that makes any military servicemember want to avoid the negative stain of an other-than-honorable discharge.
But what can you do if you disagree with the character of your discharge? If you think the process or outcome was unfair and does not adequately reflect the reality of your service and discharge, can you do anything to change your discharge character?
The Discharge Review Board (DRB)
The Discharge Review Board (DRB) was created after World War II to alleviate the pressure on the court system to adjudicate the many cases of discharge review that were coming up at that time.
The job of the DRB is to review appeals as the character of discharge. Although the board does not review general courts martial discharges, it will review most other types of discharges.
What will the DRB consider?
When looking at the record of a discharge, the DRB will consider two things:
- Propriety: When the DRB looks at propriety, it is looking at legal procedural issues. Did the adjudicating authority follow the appropriate procedures for discharge? Was there proper authority to make this determination? These are the types of questions the DRB will consider when looking at the propriety of the case.
- Equity: Equity comes down to fairness. Was the decision fair? Was there any bias toward the person being discharged? Under the equity aspect of the review, the board will look at whether the character of your discharge was appropriate, all things considered.
It is important to note here that the DRB looks at the character of your discharge; it does not have the authority to reverse discharges.
How should I proceed?
While we can discuss the actual procedures in a later blog post, the most important thing to do is contact a military defense lawyer immediately. Someone with experience handling these matters can walk you through the process and fight for your interests.
Do not delay. There is a 15-year statute of limitations for bringing discharge character claims to the DRB. Although that might seem like a long time, it is important to get your case started as soon as possible.