MILITARY DISCHARGE UPGRADES

TENS OF THOUSANDS OF VETS MAY HAVE BEEN AWARDED LESS-THAN-HONORABLE DISCHARGES

A recent news article discussed that tens of thousands of Vets will be receiving Department of the Army reviews of their military discharges since many may have received a discharge characterization that was less than they deserved. If you’re reading this section, you or a loved one may be in that same circumstance.

WHY SHOULD I SEEK A MILITARY DISCHARGE UPGRADE

Simple…you earned it. If you served sufficiently on active duty in our nation’s military, then Congress has mandated that the nation honor the sacrifice you (and your family) endured. The Veteran’s Administration (VA) is charged with providing these benefits and they include healthcare, educational assistance, housing, and many, many other valuable benefits. Even if you receive these benefits now, we recognize that the stigma and anxiety that comes with receiving less than an Honorable discharge is hard.

AM I ELIGIBLE FOR A MILITARY DISCHARGE UPGRADE?

It depends. The different avenues of receiving a discharge upgrade have time limitations and restrictions, a full discussion of which is not possible here. Just know that you should NEVER assume that you are not eligible. Look into it. Get help. MAKE SURE before you give up.

HOW CAN I APPLY FOR A MILITARY DISCHARGE UPGRADE

There are two different types of military boards that can review your discharge papers. One is the Discharge Review Board (DRB) and the other is the Board of Correction for Military Records (BCMR). Each board has different authority, timelines, restrictions, and limitations. This section will discuss the DRB. For a discussion about the BCMR, click here.

First, you’ll want to request a copy of your military personnel and medical records, as well as copies of any trial records if you endured a court martial. DO THIS IMMEDIATELY, as retrieving these records can take months. You then apply to the DRB online or via mail at the addresses provided below. To be successful, packages must show that your discharge was “improper” or “inequitable.” Improper means factually incorrect or inconsistent with the law.

Inequitable means inconsistent with the traditions and policies of the service. The “standards” or tests which the reviewers apply to your application are based upon federal law and must be considered carefully. A “well-built” application will thoroughly discuss and provide evidence as to ALL the reasons you believe you are entitled to an upgrade. Any reasons you leave out, you may lose, even if you or your lawyer raise them later on.

WHAT CAN A DISCHARGE REVIEW BOARD DO?

Generally, DRBs can upgrade the character of a discharge or change the reason for a discharge. However, DRBs cannot modify a discharge awarded at a General Court Martial, nor can a DRB change a discharge to or from medical retirement or medical discharge.  For those types of actions, the Vet would need to apply to the BCMR

MAY I APPEAL THE DECISION OF A DRB?

Absolutely. You may also ask for reconsideration of the DRB’s decision.  

DO I NEED A LAWYER TO HELP ME?

Probably not a bad idea. There are studies that show applicants with legal representation are far more likely to receive upgrades than those without. This is likely due to the complex requirements and standards involved. An experienced military lawyer will know how to address those standards, what kind of evidence supports it, and how to argue “improper” or “inequitable.” In addition, having a lawyer may help you get reconsideration of a denied DRB request. That said, the internet is FULL of helpful sites and “how to” guides that will assist you if you decide to “go it alone”. 

But you shouldn’t need to spend a fortune to get a lawyer’s help. There are many Veteran’s Service Organizations (VSOs) and other Vet-focused groups that offer pro bono or low cost assistance with DRB packages. There are thousands of Vets seeking these services and resources are limited so you may be required to establish financial need. Also, depending on the complexity of your case, many experienced military lawyers will reduce their “standard” cost to assist you. At KML, we try to make our fees affordable to all who need us. In fact, if you feel like you need help but can’t afford it, please visit our Pro Bono Page.  

We hope this information was helpful. Please feel free to reach out to us at KML if you think we can help.  

DRB CONTACT INFORMATION

Army
Army Review Boards Agency
251 18th Street South
Suite 385
Arlington, VA 22202-3531
http://arba.army.pentagon.mil

Navy/Marine Corps
Secretary of the Navy
Council of Review Boards
ATTN: Naval Discharge Review Board
720 Kennon Ave S.E., Suite 309
Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5023
secnav.navy.mil/mra/CORB/pages/ndrb/default.aspx 

Air Force
Air Force Review Boards Agency
SAF/MRBR
550-C Street West, Suite 40
Randolph AFB, TX 78150-4742

Coast Guard
Commandant (CG-122)
Attn: Office of Military Personnel
US Coast Guard
2100 2nd Street S.W., Stop 7801
Washington, DC 20593-7801
https://www.uscg.mil/Resources/legal/DRB/

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Don is the guy you want in your corner. When you are up against the resources of the military and government in general, it can be overwhelming. The military JAGs who may eventually get to defend you do their best, but they are often overrun with cases and can only represent you after you’ve been officially been informed that you’re going to court-martial or administrative separation board.I won’t go into too many details about my specific situation, but Don’s vast experience as a prior judge and JAGC CAPT, his knowledge of the law and particular the UCMJ, and quite frankly, his connections to those in the military legal circles, may have saved my career.Do yourself a favor and call King Military Law for a free consultation. Especially if you think things are going to go sideways (like they did in my case), you should give serious consideration toward hiring an attorney.I’ll end with this since I’m being vague. My situation ended in an outcome that the JAGs were flabbergasted by. I had to make some financial sacrifices to hire this warrior but it was well worth it in the end. The resolution to my situation was fair and equitable, and that’s all I could hope for in the beginning.Thanks Don, and keep fighting the good fight.
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Don King is a man of integrity, professionalism, and work ethic. He worked tirelessly on my case and was always available for my questions. He made sure that I was well informed on the entire situation and all outcomes. I am thankful that I had Don King on my case, and I would give him the highest recommendation to anyone in need.
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We only had a Brief conversation. But within those few minutes, He made me smile with relief. He gave me better advice then three lawyers a jag and legal on my ship. I got hit with article 112a, when my ship found a dab pen in my belongings. After his consultation, I feel like I can put my mine at ease. highly recommend 10 out of 10!!!!!!
Roberto AugustinRoberto Augustin
01:40 25 Feb 22
If you are facing any legal issues within your command, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Don. He is one of the best military attorneys you could ever ask for. He is sincere and extremely knowledgeable about the military law. I was in the process of getting separated for a pattern of misconduct a few months before my EOS. I felt so hopeless and scared that I would lose all my benefits. I waited at the last minute to contact Mr. Don. God knows that was one of the best decisions I have ever made. He took his time to listen to my issues and told me right away that he could help me. After I provided him with all the information that was needed for my case, he and his team were able to write a very successful letter to my command admiral and allow me to get out with an honorable discharge. The only regret I have by choosing Attorney Don and his team is not contacting them much earlier than I did.Thanks again, Mr. Don. I greatly appreciate you and your team for helping me win my case.
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