I recently represented a veteran who was seeking to upgrade her discharge characterization.  Our hard work paid off and we were able to convince the Discharge Review Board to upgrade her discharge to an Honorable Discharge.  This was not an easy task, but it was necessary in order for her to apply for certain Veteran’s Benefits and apply for employment in a certain field.

Most people are aware that a veteran receiving anything less than an Honorable Discharge is at a disadvantage in the civilian world.  Many employers, professional licensing boards, and Universities may not be willing to take a chance on a veteran with anything less than an Honorable Discharge.   More importantly, the type of discharge a veteran receives will affect the types of Military Benefits and Veterans’ Administration (VA) benefits. The type of discharge effects everything from monthly VA disability compensation to GI Bill education benefits and VA Home Loan eligibility.  The type of discharge a Veteran receives can equate to thousands of dollars in annual benefits. 

Discharge types fall in a few different categories: Honorable, General under Honorable Conditions, General under less than Honorable Conditions, Bad Conduct Discharge, Dishonorable and Dismissal. Each service has a process to follow to to submit a request to upgrade the discharge.  The two major issues that each Discharge Review Board addresses is whether or not: 1) the discharge was proper and 2) whether or not the discharge was equitable. 
Many Veterans are under the impression that they can simply fill out a VA Form, such as a VA Form 293, and submit a few buddy letters and their discharge will be upgraded.  While this may be the case for some Veterans, most Veterans will need substantially more.   This is where either the local Veteran Service Officer (VSO) or an Attorney can assist.  

Veteran Service Officers may have the time and means to successfully assist the Veteran in the discharge upgrade, but they may not.  Attorneys, such as myself, will have the time to dedicate to your matter, but they charge for their services in most cases.  

An Attorney, such as myself, can review the reason for the discharge and work to convince the Discharge Review Board the command made a procedural error in the discharge process, or that the Veteran was not guilty of the offense the discharge was based on.  Secondly, the Attorney can argue that even if the discharge was proper, it was not fair under the circumstances. Attorney’s and representatives will also submit supporting documentation in the form of letters of reference, medical records, transcripts, and criminal records to supply the Board with the necessary documents to render a favorable decision. 

Statistically the odds are stacked against a veteran seeking a discharge upgrade.  However, that does not mean the veteran should not seek to obtain an Honorable Discharge.  The benefits of obtaining a discharge upgrade far outweighs the cost. If you have a question relating to a discharge upgrade and are in the state of Oregon or are in Southern Washington please feel free to contact Jeremiah Ross and Ross Law LLC at 503.224.1658.

Also, please remember this post is for informational purposes only.  The law is constantly changing and this post should not be relied on for legal advice.  Please consult with an Attorney or Veteran Representative prior to making any decisions relating to a discharge upgrade.  Lastly, this post does not create an Attorney Client relationship.  Call Ross Law LLC If you have any questions relating to this post or any other post on this blog, including personal injury post, DUII post, and Auto Fraud Post.