The reasons for wanting to upgrade a discharge can include eligibility for Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, improved employment opportunities, and removing the stigma of a bad discharge. A veteran has two choices of where to apply for a discharge upgrade: the Discharge Review Board (DRB) or the Board of Corrections for Military Records (BCMR). If your main concern is to receive VA benefits, you can also request a character of discharge determination. A favorable character of discharge determination will not change your DD-214, but it may make you eligible for VA benefits.
A major consideration in choosing where to apply is the different time limits imposed by the DRB and the BCMR. The DRB statute of limitations is fifteen years from the date of discharge. This statute of limitations cannot be waived. The BCMR has a three year statute of limitations from the date of discovery of the error. However, this statute of limitation is usually waived upon request. Applying for a discharge upgrade requires the Veteran to complete either DD Form 293 (for DRB) or DD Form 149 (BCMR). An experienced attorney can assist the Veteran with these applications.
The Veteran has the burden to prove that the discharge is either illegal or unfair. The boards presume the discharge was fair and legal, that commands and discharge authorities acted properly, and that the military records given to the board provide an accurate statement of the necessary facts. Some boards also look at the how the discharge has affected the Veteran.
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