Many veterans find that, after years of faithful service, they are discharged under a status that is not as honoring as they think their service would merit. After a less than favorable discharge, you can petition your case with the discharge review board (DRB) of your branch of the military.
What does it mean to change my discharge status?
There are various levels of discharge from the military. You could receive an honorable discharge, a general discharge (under honorable conditions), an other than honorable discharge (OTH), a bad conduct discharge or a dishonorable discharge.
Anything less that an honorable discharge or general discharge under honorable conditions could have a significantly negative impact on your life. You could lose your post-military veteran benefits, experience hindrance in your future employment options and, if you were dishonorably discharged, lose some important freedoms like the right to own a firearm.
It is important to have your discharge status upgraded if possible to secure a better future and reputation for yourself.
How does the DRB board process work?
Each branch has its own DRB, but in general the discharged veteran files a petition for a discharge status upgrade. The DRB will look at the evidence, conduct a hearing and make a determination as to whether to upgrade the discharge.
The DRB will generally look at the procedure by which your discharge status was determined, as well as any considerations of equity in the final determination. For example, the Army DRB’s Mission Statement states: “The purpose of the review is to determine if the discharge was granted in a proper manner, according to regulatory procedures in effect at the time, and that it was equitable, considering current policy, mitigating factors, and the total record.”
Can you get your discharge reversed and be reinstated?
No. The DRB does not have the power to overturn a discharge or reinstate discharged veterans. It can only upgrade the status of a discharge, and only in certain cases.
How should I proceed?
The best thing to do is talk to an attorney with experience handling military DRB cases. It is important to note that there is a 15-year statute of limitations to petition for a discharge upgrade.
Any upgrade on your discharge status could be a tremendous benefit to your future.