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ADC - Discharges and applying for upgrades
Published November 17, 2006
AREA DEFENSE COUNSEL
BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.
FACT SHEET ON AFI 36-3208 DISCHARGES AND APPLYING FOR UPGRADES
1. You've just been notified that you are being recommended for administrative discharge. You're upset, confused, unsure of what steps to take and what rights you have. The purpose of this fact sheet is to provide some answers to questions you may have concerning discharges under AFI 36-3208. For example, how is a discharge under AFI 36-3208 processed and how does it affect you? Once you are notified that discharge proceedings have been initiated, how long does it take until you are actually out of the Air Force? What are your veteran and military entitlements? Can an administrative discharge be upgraded? After you've read this fact sheet, you should have a general understanding of such questions. Personnel can also answer your questions in this area. A copy of the AFI should be in your orderly room and we suggest that you review the sections relevant to your situation.
2. WHAT ARE THE REASONS I CAN BE DISCHARGED?: AFI 36-3208 sets forth the reasons for which you can be involuntarily separated from the Air Force before the expiration of your enlistment. The stated basis for the discharge often affects the type of discharge you can receive. While AFI 36-3208 lists many reasons for discharge, airman are most frequently discharged under one of the following sections:
a. Misconduct. There are several subsections:
(1) Paragraph 5.49 - Minor Disciplinary Infractions. Airmen are subject to discharge for a pattern of misconduct consisting solely of minor disciplinary infractions. Such infractions may involve failure to comply with non punitive regulations or minor offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Infractions of this type normally result in informal or formal counseling, Letters of Reprimand or Article 15 punishment.
(2) Paragraph 5.50 - A Pattern of Misconduct. Airmen are subject to discharge for a pattern of misconduct consisting wholly or in part of misconduct more serious than that considered under paragraph 5.49. Subsections included the following:
(a) Discreditable Involvement With Military or Civil Authorities;
(b) Conduct Prejudicial to Good Order and Discipline;
(c) Failure to Support Dependents; and
(d) Dishonorable Failure to Pay Just Debts.
(3) Paragraph 5.51 - Civilian Conviction. Airmen are subject to discharge for misconduct based on conviction by civilian authorities or action tantamount to a finding of guilty when:
(a) A punitive discharge would be authorized for the same or closely related offense under the Manual for Courts-Martial; or
(b) The sentence by civilian authorities includes confinement for 6 months or more without regard to suspension or probation.
(4) Paragraph 5.52 - Commission of a Serious Offense. Airmen are subject to discharge for misconduct based on the commission of a serious offense if a punitive discharge would be authorized for the same or closely related offense under the Manual for Courts-Martial. Discharge action will often be initiated in the following cases:
(a) Sexual Deviation.
(b) Prolonged Unauthorized Absence
(c) Other Serious Offenses
b. Unsatisfactory Performance.
(1) Paragraph 5.26. Airmen are subject to discharge for unsatisfactory performance based on documented failure to meet Air Force standards. Unsatisfactory duty performance includes the following:
(a) Failure to perform assigned duties properly;
(b) A progressively downward trend in performance ratings; or
(c) Failure to demonstrate the qualities of leadership required by a member's grade.
(2) Other basis for discharge under this section include the following:
(a) Failure to maintain standards of dress and personal appearance;
(b) Failure to progress in on-the-job training (OJT);
(c) Irresponsibility in the management of personal finances;
(d) Unsanitary habits;
(e) Failure to meet minimum fitness standards
c. Involuntary Convenience of the Government (COG) Discharge.
(1) Paragraph 5.11. - Conditions That Interfere With Military Service. Airmen may be
discharged based on one of the physical or mental conditions listed in this paragraph
when the commander determines that the condition interferes with assignment or
duty performance. The most common example is a DSM IV character or behavior
disorder which is so serious that it will significantly impair the military member's
ability to function in a military environment. Such disorders and their severity must be
documented by a mental health evaluation.
d. Homosexual Conduct.
(1) Paragraph 5.36. Airmen will ordinarily be discharged for homosexuality if the:
(a) Airman has engaged in, attempted to engage in, or solicited another to engage in a homosexual act or acts;
(b) Airman has stated that he or she is a homosexual or bisexual unless there is a further finding to the contrary;
(c) Airman has married or attempted to marry a person of the same sex
e. Paragraph 5.53 - Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Airmen with serologic evidence of HIV infection may be discharged when he or she is found not to have complied with lawfully ordered preventive medicine procedures.
f. Paragraph 5.54 - Drug Abuse. Airmen who abuse drugs one or more times are subject to discharge for misconduct since drug use is incompatible with military service. If you are being discharged for this reason, you should review paragraph 5.55.2 which discusses retention criteria for drug abusers (essentially that it was a departure from your normal behavior, it was only experimental on your part, you do not intend to engage in it in the future, you were not involved in drug distribution, etc.).
g. Paragraph 5.65 - Exceeding Weight Standards.
3. Who is the authority for discharging me? Your commander will recommend to the separation authority (usually the wing or installation commander) that you be discharged and what type of discharge you should receive.
4. What are the procedures for notifying me? Your unit will collect the evidence against you and will either give it to the base legal office for processing or will prepare a draft letter of notification themselves, for the legal office's review. Once the package is in the proper format and is found to be legally sufficient by the legal office, it will be served on you. You will also get a copy of all the evidence against you. This letter informs you of the action the commander is taking and of the specific reasons for this action. This letter also informs you of the type of discharge the commander is recommending (honorable, general, or under other than honorable conditions). Finally the letter summarizes your rights either under "notification proceedings" or "discharge board proceedings."
5. What are my rights after I have been served?
a. Under certain conditions, you are entitled to a discharge board. This includes the following: you have six years or more total service time, you are an NCO, you are recommended for an under other than honorable condition (UOTHC) discharge, the basis for your discharge involves homosexual conduct or a discharge in the interest of national security. See later in the handout for board procedures. You can also offer to waive your right to a board in exchange for receiving a certain discharge characterization, under certain circumstances. Discuss this with your defense counsel.
b. In notification proceedings (i.e. non-board cases), you only have the right to submit written statements on your behalf. You usually have 3 days from the date of being served the discharge letter, although extensions are possible. Try to gather as many character references as possible to submit, both from work and family. You also prepare a statement (see attachment for format and ideas, as well as submitting additional information (EPRs, atta boys, etc). The purpose of your package is to convince your commander to not discharge you, to give you probation or to give you a more favorable discharge characterization. Remember, he may not know much about you, other than the discharge evidence. Your paperwork, as well as a letter from the commander and the evidence against you are then submitted to the separation authority (usually the wing or installation commander). After the separation authority has decided your case, you will be notified in writing of the decision
6. Board Proceedings.
a. If you are entitled to an administrative discharge board hearing, you will have a proceeding similar to a court-martial proceeding in its format, but it is not controlled by the same stringent rules of evidence.
b. The burden of proof is upon the government who is represented by an attorney from the base legal office called the "recorder". The standard of proof is a "preponderance" or greater weight of the evidence standard. You are the "respondent" in these proceedings and are represented by your defense counsel, known as "respondent's counsel". The factfinder is a panel of three officers.
c. The purpose of a administrative discharge board is to serve as a finding and recommendation board. It must reach clear, logical findings of fact as to each allegation set out in the notification letter. On the basis of its findings, the board recommends (1) whether the evidence supports administrative discharge and (2) whether you should be discharged. If the board recommends discharge, it must also make separate recommendations as to: (1) the type of separation and (2) whether the respondent should be offered an opportunity for probation and rehabilitation.
d. The separation authority is bound by some but not all of the board's findings and recommendations. After the separation authority has decided your case, you will be notified in writing of the decision.
7. A Physical Examination may be required. Before you may routinely be administratively discharged, you must be certified as medically qualified for world-wide duty. Medical examinations are generally valid for a period of one year but you may need to have a physical as part of your outprocessing. If you are not medically qualified, your administrative discharge action under AFI 36-3208 must be jointly processed together with a disability discharge action. Joint processing will add a minimum of several months to out processing time.
8. Suspension of your discharge with Probation and Rehabilitation. Your commander has the authority to recommend that the separation authority sign your discharge notification but suspend execution of the discharge while you undergo a period of probation and rehabilitation (P&R). This program is covered in Chapter 7 of AFI 36-3208 and is based on the principle of allowing certain airmen the opportunity to change their pattern of behavior and remain in the Air Force. Certain types of misconduct are not eligible for P&R, including fraudulent entry, homosexual conduct and drug abuse. This probationary period lasts between 6 and 12 months. If you have any misconduct during that time period, your discharge can be immediately executed and you will be outprocessed. If you know that your record is bad enough to get you discharged but you would like to stay in, you can include a request for P&R in your statement to the separation authority. The idea is that it is a "no-risk" option for the Air Force - if you mess up again, you will be gone immediately. Tailor your letter to show that you meet the criteria for P&R: you have demonstrated a potential to serve satisfactorily, you have the capacity and desire to be rehabilitated and/or your retention on active duty in a probationary status is consistent with the maintenance of good order and discipline in the Air Force. If you are granted P&R, you will be served with paperwork documenting the conditions and length of your probation.
9. How long until I am separated?. According to AFI 36-3208, table 6-4 the average number of work days between the date the discharge action starts and the date of separation depends upon the processing method. If the method is:
a. By notification: 15 days.
b. By board hearing: 45 days
c. By board hearing with waiver: 25 days
d. By request for discharge in lieu of trail by court-martial: 25 days
Note: The days listed above are time goals. They are not no later than dates. Each case is processed on an individual basis and in some cases an individual is discharged prior to the desired date or it may take longer to process a case due to the individual circumstances of the case.
10. Where do I work while my discharge is being processed?. Normally, airmen either remain in their regular duty section or are assigned to special details in accordance with their squadron's policy on airmen pending administrative separation.
11. Clothing Turn-In. If your discharge is approved and you have served less than 36 months you will be required by AFR 67-1, Vol. 1, Part 3, Chapter 2, paragraph 79, to turn-in a complete issue of uniforms. A list of these items is located in attachment 1 of AFR 67-57. The purchase price of any items you do not have will be withheld from your final pay. Check with your first sergeant on the details.
12. What type of discharge will I get?
a. An Honorable Discharge is a separation from the Air Force under honorable conditions. Issuance is conditioned upon proper military behavior and proficient performance of duty. According to paragraph 1.18, it is granted in cases where the airman's service generally has met Air Force standards of acceptable conduct and performance of duty or when the airman's service is otherwise so meritorious that any other characterization would be inappropriate. Therefore, it is normally given after completion of an enlistment, and is not generally awarded in discharges for cause under AFI 36-3208, although it is required for certain discharges (i.e. homosexuality, weight program failure).
b. A General Discharge is also considered a separation under honorable conditions. It is defined in paragraph 1.18 as warranted when an airman's service has been honest and faithful but significant negative aspects of the airman's conduct or performance outweigh positive aspects of the airman's record. Since it is classified as a "general under honorable conditions" discharge, you are normally qualified for all Veteran's benefits which you would receive with an honorable discharge -- with the exception of your G.I. Bill benefits -- you generally have to get an honorable discharge to take advantage of the G.I. Bill (see below). A general discharge has been found by some to be a disadvantage in seeking some civilian employment.
c. An Under Other Than Honorable conditions (UOTHC) Discharge carries a serious stigma. It is defined in paragraph 1.18 as warranted when the airman's actions constitute a significant departure from the conduct expected of airmen. Such a discharge may deprive an airman of veteran's benefits and may substantially hinder post-service employment or education. It is considered comparable to a punitive discharge adjudged by a court-martial.
13. Travel Pay. Under the Joint Federal Travel Regulation, Volume 1, U7500 you are entitled to the costs of a PCS move and travel home if you receive an honorable or general discharge. If you receive an under other than honorable conditions discharge, you are not entitled to the cost of a PCS move, but you will get a bus ticket home. If you received a UOTHC discharge and have dependents you must apply to the Wing Commander for the cost of transportation home for your dependents and household goods.
14. Educational Benefits. Under previous veteran's educational assistance acts, you are automatically entitled to educational benefits if you received at least a "general under honorable conditions" discharge. However, under the most recent veteran's educational assistance act, the "Montgomery Bill," you are entitled to educational benefits only if you received an honorable discharge. A case-by-case determination is made when you are discharged with a general under honorable conditions discharge. Application is made on VA Form 22-1990 which must be sent to VARO, P.O. Box 66830, St. Louis, MO, 63166-6830. Talk to the Education Office for more information.
15. Entitlements. To determine what entitlements you have after discharge refer to attachment 2 of AFR 110-3, attachment 2 or consult with the Veterans Administration (1-800-827-1000). Basically, an honorable or general discharge entitles you to all veterans benefits for which you otherwise quality with the exception of insurance and certain medical benefits. With an Under Other Than Honorable Conditions discharge, you may or may not qualify for veterans benefits depending upon a special determination, based on the facts of each case.
16. Post-Discharge Review. Once an administrative discharge is approved, there is no military appeals procedure. However, after separation, the individual may seek review of the case and possible upgrading of the discharge by applying to the Air Force Discharge Review Board within 15 years or to the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records within 3 years. Procedures for making such applications are set forth in AFI 36-2607 and in a separate handout available from our office. The applicable regulations are available from the Chief of Administration of any Air Force installation or from the Discharge Review/Correction Board Reading Room, located in the Pentagon, Washington, DC 20310. Some veterans organizations provide assistance in processing such cases and the individual may, if desired, retain civilian legal counsel to assist in making and completing an application. Contact Personnel for more details. You should keep copies of all your discharge package paperwork, including your submission to the separation authority, since much of that material is not maintained in your "permanent" Air Force records. Also, before you leave the base, you should get additional character letters and make copies of the favorable information contained in your PIF.
17. Conclusion. This fact sheet was intended to give you an overview of discharge under AFI 36-3208. If you should have further questions, please review the referenced regulations and then feel free to call the Area Defense Counsel at 781-8355
GUIDELINE FOR PERSONAL WRITTEN STATEMENTS
A. Where born
B. Education (high school, vocational-tech schools, college, etc.)
C. School activities
D. Employment during school years, if any
E. Any special achievements, awards
II. Why you joined the Air Force
A. Desire to serve your country
B. Learn new job skills
D. Educational benefits
III. Training you received in the Air Force
A. What did you do on your previous assignment(s)
B. Technical school, where, when, what field
C. Any special honors earned
D. Other Training (upgrade, additional duties, etc.)
IV. Your military assignments
A. What did you do on your previous assignment(s)?
B. When did you arrive here?
C. What is your present assignment?
D. Do you like what you're doing?
E. Awards, decorations
V. Outside activities
A. Squadron athletics
B. Help in the community
C. Part-time job
VI. Ask for retention, if that's what you desire. Tell them why you're an asset to the Air Force. If you don't want retention, request an honorable discharge, or discuss your future plans. Remember, your commander may not know much about you, except for the reason you are being discharged, so provide him or her the information needed to justify changing his/her mind.
GUIDELINE FOR LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION
I. How long and in what capacity do they know you
A. Number of years
B. On duty/off duty
C. Co-workers or supervisor
D. What job do they hold
II. What was your duty performance like
A. Primary duty
B. Additional duties
C. Were you a supervisor? Of how many people? How good?
D. Noted achievements on duty
III. Character and military bearing
B. Self starter/eager/industrious
C. Well organized/knowledgeable/efficient
D. Agreeable/polite/well mannered
IV. Recommendation of Retention
B. A good risk for retention
C. Likely to succeed in the Air Force
Make sure that these people are aware of why you are being recommended for discharge. They should state that they are aware of the reasons in their letter.
AREA DEFENSE COUNSEL
UPGRADING ADMINISTRATIVE DISCHARGES
This fact sheet is designed to familiarize you with the procedures for upgrading Under Other Than Honorable Conditions (UOTHC) and General administrative discharges. You may also seek to change the reason for any administrative discharge (including an Honorable), e.g., from "misconduct" to "involuntary convenience of the Government." The references for this procedure are DoD Directive 1332.28 (11 Aug 82).
1. A DISCHARGE DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY BECOME AN HONORABLE AFTER 6 MONTHS. This is a widely circulated rumor that is untrue. You must apply for an upgrade and the Discharge Review Board (DRB) must grant the upgrade.
2. Who can apply? A former member of the Armed Forces who has been discharged or dismissed administratively in accordance with AF instructions or a special/summary court-martial. If the member is deceased or incompetent, the surviving spouse, next-of-kin or legal representative can act on the member's behalf.
3. Who makes the decision? The Discharge Review Board (DRB) is appointed by the Secretary of the Air Force and given discretionary authority to review discharges and dismissals. A DRB Panel is an element of the DRB and consists of 5 members, authorized to review discharges and dismissals. The DRB Traveling or Regional Panel is a DRB Panel that conducts its reviews in locations outside the Washington, D.C. area.
4. Time of Application. You may apply for an upgrade immediately upon discharge and up to 15 years after the date of the discharge or dismissal.
5. Form for Application. Use DD Form 293, Application for the Review of Discharge or Dismissal from the Armed Forces of the United States, along with other statements or documentation as needed. This form is available at most bases, at regional offices of the Veterans Administration or by writing to:
DA Military Review Boards Agency
Attention: SFBA (Reading Room)
Washington, D.C. 20310
6. How do I apply? There are essentially three ways to apply for an upgrade, although most people simply use the first option. If you apply in the following order, you get to apply all three times. If you jump the order, which you are free to do, you lose out on the earlier chances. It's therefore advisable to follow the order. Each time you apply you may learn about weaknesses in your application that you could correct in a subsequent application and thereby enhance your ultimate possibilities for an upgrade. The three ways to apply are:
a. Written Application Alone.
b. Personal Appearance Without Counsel Present.
c. Personal Appearance With Counsel Present.
7. Assistance of Counsel. You may and should seek counsel in making your application without jumping to step three. Step three depends on whether the counsel goes with you to your personal appearance. Experience has shown that assistance of counsel increases your chances for an upgrade. You may seek assistance from the Veterans' Administration, American Red Cross, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Jewish War Veterans of the USA, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (all of which regularly provide free counseling for upgrade applicants) or from a private attorney.
8. What changes can I ask for? An application may request a chance in the character of or reason for discharge or both:
a. Character of discharge: Block 5 of DD Form 293 provides you with a chance to request a specific change in the character of your discharge. A request from an applicant who does not have an Honorable Discharge will be treated as a request for a change to Honorable unless the applicant specifically requests another character of discharge.
b. Reason for discharge: Block 5 of DD Form 293 provides an opportunity to request a change in the reason for discharge. If you do not request a change in the reason, the Board will presume that you do not want the reason changed.
9. What are the standards for upgrade?. The DRB will upgrade a discharge only for the reasons of "equity" and/or "propriety."
a. "Equity" concerns three general areas: whether service members (at the applicant's base and at other installations) with a similar record to the applicant received a more favorable type of discharge than the applicant, whether the discharge was inconsistent with standards of discipline in the Air Force or based on other factors such as quality of service (service history, decorations, promotions, responsibility level, length of service, disciplinary actions, court-martial) and/or capability of service (total capabilities per education and military record, family and personal problems that may have affected ability to serve, arbitrary or capricious action by commander, or discrimination).
b. "Propriety" generally involves an inquiry into whether all the applicable Air Force regulations were properly followed in the applicant's discharge proceedings (i.e. an error of fact, law or procedure occurred or a change in policy has been retroactively made to this type of discharge). If the Air Force did not follow its directives, including affording the applicant the opportunity to provide rebuttal at the time of the action, it may be proper to upgrade the applicant's discharge.
c. Note that both reasons for upgrade involve the applicant's military service, not post- or pre-service accomplishments or difficulties caused by the discharge characterization. However, these aspects should be included in the application along with the basis for discharge (either equity or propriety) because they may shed some light on, at least, the equity basis. For example, did other service members with a similar record have the same difficulty getting civilian employment? Also, was the service record as reflected in the discharge documentation an inaccurate reflection of the applicant's complete service, as evidenced by other documents (including statements of military supervisors and co-workers) relating to the service and similar post-service documentation of such a glowing nature to cast doubt on the accuracy of the service record (on the theory that "a leopard doesn't change its spots")?
10. Steps in Requesting Upgrade.
a. Request a copy of your military records.
(1) The best time to get copies of your records is before you separate. Keep your copy of the discharge paperwork in a safe location, where you can find it when and if you decide to apply for an upgrade. Also make copies of your MPF personnel file and squadron Personal Information File. Many of these documents will not become part of your permanent file and will be lost if you don't copy them before you out-process.
(2) Request a copy of your permanent military records using the a Standard Form 180. In Section II, number 1, write "complete service and medical records." In Section II, number 4, write "discharge review." Make sure your send this form before you file your application for upgrade. Otherwise, your records will not be available for copying as they will be sent to the DRB once they receive your application.
b. Gather supporting documentation.
(1) Again the best time to do this is before you outprocess. Ask co-workers and supervisors to provide you reference letters concerning your duty performance and skills. You can submit these letters not only to the DRB if you apply for an upgrade, but also to potential civilian employers. If you don't intend to offer these letters during the discharge process itself (i.e. if you don't intend to submit them to your commander as part of a rebuttal to the discharge), tell your co-workers and supervisors. You'll probably get more letters if the authors don't feel like they have to "fight" the commander in order to help you.
(2) If you didn't get them before, track down your coworkers and supervisors, and get statements. Also get letters from your civilian employers; certificates from schools, civic organizations, and churches; a letter reflecting a clean record from your local police department; a copy of your credit rating from your local credit bureau (if debts were a problem that contributed to your discharge); documents reflecting alcohol or drug treatment and attendance at AA and similar organizations (if alcohol or drugs were factors in your discharge); birth certificates from your children; and any other document which supports your argument that you have been a good citizen during and since your discharge and/or that you have had difficulty finding employment due to your discharge.
(3) Be sure to list all documents in block 7 of the DD Form 293.
c. Decide why your discharge should be upgraded and carefully explain it to the DRB. These reasons are your "issues."
(1) Remember that for your discharge to be upgraded, your reason must be based on equity or propriety. What it boils down to is that your discharge was "unfair" for some reason. Be sure you understand why you feel it was unfair. If you're not sure, don't count on the DRB figuring it out for you; chances are you'll just be wasting your time.
(2) List each issue for the DRB's consideration in block 8 of the DD Form 293. Unless you specifically list the issue, the DRB does not have to address it in the decision of your case.
(3) The attachment contains some potential issues for you to raise.
d. Personal appearance.
(1) If you choose to make a personal appearance, you may make the appearance before the DRB at Washington DC or before one of the traveling panels. Depending on the number of requests for personal appearance in the various locations, the DRB will travel to the following cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, San Antonio, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Tampa.
(2) Prepare yourself for the personal appearance by having a friend question you about your reasons for upgrade. The DRB will want to know why you got into trouble in the service. Explain it as best you can without trying to bad-mouth the service. (Its unlikely that such a tactic will win you favor with the military members of the DRB.) Dress conservatively; a business suit or equivalent is appropriate.
11. How long does it take?. Normally you will receive a letter from the DRB within a month telling you that your application has been received. If the DRB asks for any additional information, send it as quickly as possible. A decision can take 6 to 18 months from the date you apply. If you requested a personal appearance you should have a decision within 6 weeks after the hearing. If you did not request a personal hearing and you have not received a decision within 6 months, send a follow-up letter.
12. Chances of an Upgrade. Each decision is made on a case-by-case basis. Generally, support from supervisors and commanders at the time of discharge will greatly enhance your chances as will valiant attempts to correct problems during service (such as alcohol rehabilitation). In 1989, roughly 16% of applications to the DRB with personal appearances and roughly 6% without were upgraded. The assistance of counsel in preparing and presenting the request for upgrade seemed to improve applicants' chances.
13. Appealing the DRB Decision. After you have exhausted your chances with the DRB (after making a personal appearance with counsel), you may apply to the Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR) using DD Form 149, Application for Correction of Military Record Under the Provisions of Title 10, U.S. Code, Section 1552 and AFI 36-2607.
a. The time limits for an application to the BCMR are different from the DRB. To apply to the BCMR you must normally apply within 3 years after discovering the error or injustice to be corrected. Generally this means within 3 years of your discharge. However, if because of the length of the DRB process you are unable to even apply to the BCMR until after the 3 years have elapsed (an extremely likely event), explain in block 11b. of the DD Form 149 that "in the interest of justice" the BCMR should consider your case because you have diligently appealed your case before the DRB within the DRB time limits (a necessary first step before appealing to the BCMR).
b. Also if there should be a change in standards such that you would have received a better discharge under the new standards, cite the "date of discovery" in block 11a. of the DD Form 149 as the date you learned of the increased standards.
14. Closing Advice. The best advice is to remember you'll never get your discharge upgraded unless you apply. Stick to it and try not to get discouraged. The more time you take in preparing your application and for your personal appearance, the greater your chance for a good result. One thing is certain, it never hurts to ask.
- Under current standards, I would receive the type of discharge I got.
- My conduct and efficiency ratings were mostly pretty good.
- I received awards and decorations.
- I received letters of commendation.
- I had combat service.
- I was wounded in action.
- My record of promotions shows that I was generally a good service member.
- There were other acts of merit.
- I had a prior Honorable discharge.
- I have been a good citizen since discharge.
- My Article 15 record indicates only isolated or minor offenses.
- My court-martial conviction record indicates only isolated or minor offenses.
- My civil conviction record while in the service indicates only isolated or minor offenses.
- My ability to serve was impaired by my low aptitude scores and level of education.
- My ability to serve was impaired by my youth and immaturity.
- My ability to serve was impaired by my deprived background.
- My ability to serve was impaired by my marital and family problems.
- My ability to serve was impaired by my personal problems.
- My ability to serve was impaired by my financial problems.
- My ability to serve was impaired by religious discrimination.
- My ability to serve was impaired by racial discrimination.
- My ability to serve was impaired by use of alcohol.
- My ability to serve was impaired by medical or physical problems.
- My ability to serve was impaired by psychiatric problems.
- My ability to serve was impaired by matters of conscience.
- My ability to serve was impaired because I wasn't working in the field I was trained for.
- My ability to serve was impaired because I couldn't speak English very well.
- I was being considered for a physical disability discharge and was unfairly denied one.
- I should have been given a medical discharge because I was not medically qualified to serve.
- I had applied for or tried to apply for conscientious objector status, but was unfairly denied or told to forget it.
- I had applied for or tried to apply for a hardship discharge, but was unfairly denied or told to forget it.
- I had applied for or tried to apply for a humanitarian reassignment, but was unfairly denied or told to forget it.
- I tried to serve and wanted to, but just couldn't or wasn't able to.
- My enlistment option was not satisfied or was waived.
- I was enlisted illegally.
(Source of above and attachment: The Veteran's Self-Help Guide to Discharge Upgrading, Copyright 1983, Veterans Education Project, Inc., P.O. Box 42130, Washington DC 20015.)