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  • The Discharge Appeal Review Board (DARB): The DoD’s New, Final Appeal

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    On April 7, 2021, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced a new board of appeals for service members who were discharged from the military on or after December 20, 2019. The Discharge Appeal Review Board (DARB) will provide final review of discharge or dismissal characterization upgrade requests when petitioners have exhausted all available administrative remedies.

    MJA has successfully helped service members upgrade their discharge characterization of service. If you believe your discharge or dismissal was unjust, erroneous, or otherwise warrants an upgrade, contact us today for your free consultation.

    WHAT IS THE DARB?

    Established under Title 10 U.S.C. § 1553a, the DARB conducts a final review of any request for an upgrade in the characterization of a discharge or dismissal. The DARB is the highest administrative level of review for a discharge upgrade request. While the DoD has designated the Air Force as lead agent to implement the process, the DARB serves as the final level of administrative review for ALL branches of the military.

    WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?

    Any DoD Service member separated on or after December 20, 2019, who has exhausted all available appeals with their service Discharge Review Board (DRB) and Board for Correction of Military/Naval Records (BCM/NR), may apply to the DARB. If a current or former service member is deceased or incapacitated, the surviving spouse, next of kin, or legal representative may apply on their behalf.

    The requirement to “exhaust all available appeals” simply means that the petitioner has already requested and been denied relief from their service DRB and BCM/NR before applying to the DARB.

    WHAT TYPES OF DISCHARGES CAN THE DARB REVIEW?

    The DARB may review both voluntary or involuntary discharges based on:

    Enlisted:

    • Expiration of service obligation
    • Change in service obligations
    • Weight control failure
    • Convenience of the Government
    • Disability
    • Defective enlistments and induction
    • Unsatisfactory reserve participation
    • Secretarial plenary authority
    • Entry-level conduct/performance
    • Unsatisfactory performance
    • Military Department reasons
    • Misconduct
    • Separation in lieu of court-martial
    • Security
    • Drug abuse rehabilitation failure
    • Alcohol abuse rehabilitation failure

    Officer:

    • Substandard performance of duty
    • Misconduct or moral or professional dereliction
    • Retention not clearly consistent with national security interests;
    • Sentence by court-martial
    • Dropping from the rolls

    If the DARB recommends that the petitioner’s characterization of service be upgraded, this recommendation is sent to the Secretary of the Military Department concerned for final action. The Secretary of the Military Department makes the final decision.

    WHAT EVIDENCE DOES THE DARB CONSIDER?

    The DARB is not an investigative board and does NOT accept new documentation or evidence to support a discharge or dismissal characterization appeal. Rather, the DARB only reviews records from the service BCM/NR in making their determination. Providing new evidence will result in closure of a petitioner’s DARB application. The DARB is a document review board ONLY and does not allow for personal appearances.

    WHEN SHOULD I APPLY?

    Service members discharged on or after December 20, 2019, through December 31, 2020, must submit a request for relief to the DARB on or before January 1, 2022, or within 365 calendar days of receipt of the BCM/NR decision, whichever is later.

    Service members discharged on or after January 1, 2021, must submit a request for relief within 365 calendar days of the date of receipt of the BCM/NR decision.

    Requests filed outside these timelines are untimely and may be denied by the DARB.

    HOW DO I APPLY?

    Applicants can apply electronically or by mail following the instructions on the DARB’s website. Applications should include the following information:

    • Full name of Petitioner
    • Mailing address
    • Phone number with area code
    • Email address
    • The BCM/NR Docket/Case number a copy of the associated discharge/dismissal upgrade denial letters (if possible)

    Representatives applying on behalf of a service member must provide their personal and contact information and attach proof of status or relationship documentation, if applicable.

    IS THERE ANY RISK TO APPLYING?

    No, the DARB may not lower a discharge characterization decision.

    CONTACT US TODAY

    MJA has successfully helped service members upgrade their discharge characterization of service. If you believe your discharge or dismissal was unjust, erroneous, or warrants an upgrade, contact us today for your free consultation.

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