U.S. Military Discharge Attorney

Military Discharge Attorney For Veterans In The United States

When a service member is discharged from the military, the type of discharge they receive can have significant implications for their eligibility to receive benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). While an honorable discharge generally allows veterans to access a wide range of benefits and services, other types of discharges may limit or even exclude them from receiving these crucial resources. At The Vet Law Office, we work with veterans to address issues related to military discharges and ensure that they can receive the necessary VA benefits.

Types of Military Discharges

The various types of military discharges include:

  • Honorable Discharge: This is the most favorable type of discharge that a service member can receive. It signifies that they fulfilled their obligations with distinction and met or exceeded the standards expected by the military.
  • General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions: This type of discharge indicates that while there may have been some misconduct or performance issues during a service member's time in the military, overall, they served honorably.
  • Other Than Honorable (OTH) Discharge: An OTH discharge is given when a service member has engaged in serious misconduct or repeatedly violated military regulations. It is considered less favorable than an honorable or general discharge.
  • Bad Conduct Discharge (BCD): A BCD may be issued by a court-martial for serious offenses that fall short of those warranting a dishonorable discharge. It can also lead to significant limitations on VA benefits.
  • Dishonorable Discharge: This type of discharge is reserved for service members who have committed serious offenses such as desertion, espionage, or murder. It carries severe consequences and often results in the complete loss of all VA benefits.

Impact of Military Discharges on VA Benefits

The type of military discharge a veteran receives can directly affect their eligibility for various VA benefits and services, including:

  • Veterans' Health Care: Generally, veterans with honorable discharges are eligible for comprehensive healthcare services through the VA. However, individuals with OTH discharges may face restrictions or be completely ineligible for certain types of care.
  • Veterans' Disability Compensation: Veterans who have disabilities resulting from injuries or illnesses incurred during active duty may be entitled to disability compensation. While most veterans with honorable discharges qualify, those with OTH or dishonorable discharges may be excluded unless they successfully appeal their status.
  • Educational Assistance Programs: Honorable discharges generally allow veterans access to educational assistance programs such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill and vocational rehabilitation services. Veterans with less favorable discharges may face limitations in accessing these resources.
  • Housing Benefits: Certain benefits provided by the VA, such as home loans and grants, are typically available only to veterans with honorable or general discharges.

Mitigating Negative Consequences: Upgrading Discharge Status

If a veteran has received an OTH, BCD, or other than favorable discharge and believes it was unjust or wants to improve their eligibility for VA benefits, they may have the option to seek a discharge upgrade. The process of upgrading a military discharge involves submitting an application to the appropriate military review board.

While each branch of the military has its own review board, there are common criteria that these boards consider when evaluating applications for discharge upgrades:

  • The nature and circumstances surrounding the original basis for discharge
  • Evidence of post-service conduct and achievements
  • Supporting documentation such as medical records or character references

In recent years, the government has taken steps to help certain veterans upgrade their discharge status. These include veterans who were discharged based on misconduct but who may have been suffering from issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI). The "Kurta memo," which was released in 2017, expanded provisions allowing veterans to mitigate the misconduct that occurred in service by submitting evidence of a condition such as PTSD or, TBI.

The "Wilkie memo," which was released in 2018, expanded on the provisions contained in the Kurta Memo and allowed for relief based on injustice, clemency, or equity for veterans who have demonstrated rehabilitation and deserve second chances.

Seeking a discharge upgrade can be a complex and time-consuming process. Veterans who wish to pursue this avenue can work with an experienced attorney to ensure that the correct procedures will be followed.

Military Records Correction: Rectifying Errors

In some cases, veterans may discover errors in their military records that negatively impact their ability to access VA benefits. These errors could include incorrect information about service dates, awards received, or even mistaken discharges.

Veterans who believe there are inaccuracies in their records can request record corrections through various channels depending on the specific issue. In most cases, applications for corrections of military records can be submitted to the Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR). When records are corrected, veterans may be able to qualify for disability benefits, healthcare benefits, and other types of VA benefits.

Contact Our Experienced U.S. Military Discharge Attorney

If you are a veteran facing challenges accessing VA benefits due to your military discharge status, the experienced VA benefits attorney at The Vet Law Office can provide you with the guidance and representation you need. We understand the complexities of military law, and we have helped numerous veterans successfully navigate the process of upgrading discharges, correcting records, and securing the benefits they deserve. Contact us today at 1-800-700-4174 to schedule a consultation. We provide legal help for veterans throughout the United States.

badge badge badge badge badge badge
Back to Top