A veteran’s military discharge can have a significant impact on his or her life after military service. Some veterans look to get their character of discharge changed even when they are still eligible for VA benefits because they feel that their discharge dishonors the sacrifices they made for their country. Other veterans want their character discharge changed because they believe that after the service they provided for their country, it is grossly unfair they are exempted from VA benefits.
Luckily, regardless of why you want a military discharge upgrade, in the unfortunate event you receive an erroneous or unfair characterization of your military service, there’s a process for you to get your record cleared and receive a military discharge upgrade. If you received anything less than an Honorable Discharge, you might be barred from receiving VA health care and benefits.
J. Robert Surface, the military discharge upgrade lawyer in Greenville SC understands that unless upgraded, less than honorable discharge can hurt a veteran’s employment opportunities or even damage their self-esteem and reputation. If your military discharge was less than ideal, he could help! Surface Law Firm represents America’s bravest in Greenville SC with their discharge upgrade process; our veteran benefits attorneys will fight until we get you the status and the benefits you are entitled to!
Why Should I Appeal To Upgrade My Military Discharge?
When leaving the military, service members receive one of the most important documents they may ever receive – a DD Form 214 or NGB-22 if National Guard. This is usually a summary of service and discharge characterization. A less-than-honorable discharge can haunt you for the rest of your life. Thus, you must try to upgrade your discharge and obtain the discharge you deserve. There are many reasons for wanting a military discharge upgrade, including:
- Greater career opportunities
- To get VA benefits
- To get compensation for service-related injuries or illnesses
- To restore self-esteem and reputation
- To obtain state or federal employment
- To eliminate difficulties in security clearance application processes
- Better educational benefits
Your discharge from active duty should reflect nothing short of the most honorable discharge level possible. Often, those service members who leave with a record of service that is less than an honorable discharge face many challenges, including reduced benefits. In many cases, working with an experienced military discharge upgrade attorney can make a difference.
What Are The Three Avenues A Veteran Can Pursue To Upgrade A discharge?
If you’re asking if it’s possible to get a discharge upgrade, you are not alone. Luckily, yes, you can apply to get your character of service or discharge changed and upgraded. There are three avenues a veteran can apply to in order to have his or her character of service upgraded:
The Discharge Review Board
The DRB has the power to: alter your reason for discharge and upgrade your discharge. That means that the DRB cannot reinstate your service membership, alter re-enlistment codes, or modify any other contents of your military records. Typically, service member’s discharges can be upgrades as highlighted below:
- A General can be changed to an Honorable
- An Other-Than-Honorable discharge can be changed to a General or an Honorable
- A Bad Conduct Discharge from a Special Court-martial can be altered to Other-Than-Honorable, General, or Honorable
- An Other-Than-Honorable discharge given while in still in the entry-level status can be changed to an uncharacterized discharge.
It’s important to note that the discharge review board cannot review a discharge resulting from a court-martial decision. Besides, a DRB cannot make a discharge worse, pardon, or overturn a court-martial conviction.
The Board for Correction of Military Records
The BCMRs have the authority to modify your military records in different ways. The only thing that the BCMRs cannot do is overturn a court-martial decision. However, the BCMR can:
- Change re-enlistment codes
- Re-enlist service members
- Review and overturn the decisions of a DRB regarding a service member’s discharge
- Review and upgrade discharges including dismissal and dishonorable discharges resulting from General Court-Martials
- Get rid of disciplinary actions such as a reduction rank and fines
- Alter discharges to enable VA benefits and pension
The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)
Each branch of service has its own BCMR and DRB, and each board follows its unique timelines and rules. The skilled attorneys at Surface Law Firm can assist you in applying to the DRB, BCMR, and VA.
What Are The Current Minimum Discharge Requirements?
Considering the significance of your military discharge status after service, veterans must understand the current minimum discharge requirements.
An Honorable Discharge is used to label service members who served with distinction. Of course, they receive all benefits and rights entitled to veterans, and there’s no need to hire a military upgrade attorney if you have one of these.
General (Under Honorable Conditions)
This servicemember may be viewed as having issues with conduct and discipline. Most employers won’t even consider hiring veterans with a General Discharge. Veterans with a General Discharge lose several benefits, with the GI Bill being the most significant one. Your General Discharge is eligible for review at the DRB, and hiring a discharge upgrade lawyer in Greenville can help increase your chances of success.
Other Than Honorable
This type of discharge is used to label service members considered to have serious problems with conduct and discipline. Almost no employer will want to hire a veteran with such a military record.
Bad Conduct Or Dishonorable Discharge
These discharges are extremely stigmatizing and are often given as a form of punitive discharges. Veterans who are dishonorably discharged lose all VA benefits, and their ability to find meaningful employment is hurt. The DRB can upgrade bad Conduct discharges imposed by a Special Court-Martial. However, discharges from a General Court-Martial cannot be reviewed by the DRB.
What Evidence Does The Military Consider Good Defense?
If you’re a veteran looking to upgrade his or her discharge, you must have wondered what you need to prove to get your discharge upgraded. According to the VA, all military branches will consider a service member’s discharge upgrade if they can provide evidence showing their discharge was related to:
- Mental health problems, including PTSD
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Sexual orientation
- Sexual harassment or assault during the time of service
Veterans may also be eligible for a discharge upgrade if they served honorably and only had a single unfortunate incident. A discharge upgrade may also be considered if there has subsequently been an update in policies. A military discharge upgrade attorney in Greenville, SC, can help you gather all the pertinent evidence needed to win you the discharge you deserve.
Are There Deadlines For Requesting A Discharge Upgrade?
Regardless of how long you have to request a discharge upgrade, it pays to be mindful of time limits regarding discharge dates. Typically, a veteran must file a petition for a discharge upgrade within fifteen years of his or her discharge. In case you don’t apply for a discharge upgrade within that period, then DRB can’t help you. However, you can still apply for a “correction” with the BCMR. While there is usually a three-year time limit for submitting requests to the BCMRs, these boards frequently accept late applications provided there is a good reason for the delay.
How Long Does The Discharge Upgrade Process Take?
The discharge upgrade process is not as smooth or quick as many veterans would want. In fact, many discharge upgrade cases can take months to complete. Fortunately, having an experienced discharge attorney by your side can help speed up the process and drastically help with the presentation of your case.
How Can A Law Firm Help Veterans With Discharge Upgrades?
At Surface Law Firm, we help veterans obtain the discharge and benefits they deserve. Our discharge upgrade lawyers can help you with the following:
- Review your military service record, including your character discharge
- Help gather and organize relevant evidence
- Identify and utilize available procedural options
- Prepare briefs for the Discharge Review Board, the VA, the Board for Correction of Military Records, or all of the above
- Represent you before the three avenues mentioned above
Defend Your Military Benefits With A Military Discharge Upgrade Lawyer in Greenville SC
The process to upgrade your discharge can be complicated and daunting. Seeking help in upgrading a less-than-honorable discharge can go a long way in helping you defend your rightful military benefits and your reputation. Veterans seek a discharge upgrade for various reasons. Some veterans just want to be eligible for VA benefits, whereas some wish to re-enlist but have (RE) codes that bar them from active duty. No matter why you want a discharge upgrade, J. Robert Surface can help you.
If you feel that your military discharge was unfair, you owe it to yourself to fight for the honorable discharge and military benefits you deserve. As a person who showed that you were willing to fight for your country, you deserve recognition for your sacrifice and service, not stigma. If you would like to expert assistance with applying for a discharge upgrade in Greenville, call us!