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  • Discharge Review Boards

    Not all discharge decisions are inherently final. Pursuant to federal law, each military branch maintains a Discharge Review Board (DRB) which meets regularly to review submissions and hear oral arguments in favor of applicants. Veterans seeking a discharge upgrade may, within 15 years from their military discharge, petition one of the following DRBs:

    MJA has successfully helped veterans upgrade their discharge characterization of service and reason for separation. Contact our military defense lawyers now to learn more.

    What can the DRBs consider?

    The DRBs are authorized to reconsider discharges not ordered by sentence of a general court-martial and non-medical in nature; upgrade characterizations of service; issue re-enlistment codes; and restore rank as a matter of propriety and/or equity and fairness.

    Who is eligible to apply?

    Current and former members of the United States Military (including Reserve personnel) may apply for a correction of an error or removal of an injustice in their official military record. If a former service member is deceased or incompetent, the member’s spouse, widow or widower, next of kin (parent, sibling, or child), or legal representative can apply for the service member.

    How do you apply?

    To apply, applicants must submit a completed DD Form 293 form containing the veteran’s personal information, requested correction, justification for the request, and whether they are requesting an in person hearing, among other information. Applicants may attach as evidence documents in support of their application.

    The burden of proof to show either an error or injustice rests with the applicant. Absent evidence to the contrary, the DRB will presume presume that the military record was appropriate and in compliance with service regulations. Applicants can request a personal appearance before the Boards, but are not entitled to a hearing.

    Is there any risk to applying?

    No, the DRBs cannot make anything worse in an applicant’s service record, only better.

    How long does it take?

    The DRBs process thousands of applications a year.  As a result, an applicant should expect to wait as long as 18 months before the board rules on their case. This wait can, however, vary between the service branches.

    What is liberal consideration?

    On September 3, 2014, the Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum providing guidance to the correction boards as it considers petitions brought by veterans claiming Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with other than honorable conditions discharge. This includes a comprehensive review of all materials and evidence provided by the applicant.

    This policy was issued to make the application process easier for veterans seeking redress and assists the boards in reaching fair and consistent results in these cases. The guidance also mandates liberal waivers of time limits, ensures timely consideration of petitions, and allows for increased involvement of medical personnel in board determinations. Liberal consideration also applies to request by veterans for a discharge upgrade due to mental health conditions (including Traumatic Brain Injury), sexual assault, or sexual harassment.

    What if I was discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?

    On September 20, 2011, the Under Secretary of Defense issued a policy addressing how service boards of correction should review applications to correction of records of individuals discharged under DADT or a similar policy in place prior to DADT. Boards were directed to normally grant requests to change narrative reasons of discharge, characterization of discharges, and re-entry codes of individuals provided the following two conditions are met:

    • The original discharge was based solely on DADT or a similar policy in place prior to the enactment of DADT; and
    • There were no aggravating factors in the record, such as misconduct.

    The policy directs that an honorable or general discharge should be considered absent aggravating factors.

    Contact us Today

    MJA has proudly helped veterans successfully upgrade their discharge characterization of service. Our skilled attorneys can comb through your military record and build the strongest case possible for your discharge upgrade. Contact us today for a free consultation.