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This guide provides information on how to apply to the ABCMR for correction of your military records.
1. Who May Apply to the ABCMR. Current and former members of the United States Army (including Army Reserve and Army National Guard) may apply for a correction of error or injustice in their official Army military records. If the current or former service member is deceased or incompetent, the service member's spouse, widow or widower, next of kin (mother, father, brother, sister, or children), legally designated representative, or other specified individual, can apply for the service member. The applicant must provide legal proof of the death, or incompetence, of the service member and proof of their legal relationship to the service member. Former spouses of service members may apply on issues of Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) benefits. Department of the Army civilian employees can apply in such cases as an error or injustice in reports of survey or criminal titling, but not for civilian personnel or pay issues.
2. Right to Apply. Title 10, United States Code, Section 1552, is the law governing the correction of military records. This law authorizes the Secretary of the Army (SA) to correct errors or injustice in military records. This law allows the SA to establish a board of Army civilians to consider applications for correction of military records. This law gives you the right to apply to the ABCMR to correct errors or injustice in your military records. Army Regulation 15-185, Army Board for Correction of Military Records, provides direction on the conduct of the ABCMR and information on how to apply to the Board. These references are located on the Army Review Board Agency's web site at http://arba.army.pentagon.mil.
3. How to Apply to the ABCMR. A DD Form 149, Application for Correction of Military Records, is the form used to apply to the ABCMR for correction of military records. You may get a DD Form 149 from an Army personnel officer, human resource office, or from a veterans' assistance organization such as the Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, or Veterans of Foreign Wars. You may get a DD Form 149 or apply online on the Army Review Board Agency's web site at http://arba.army.pentagon.mil. Click on [application procedures: ABCMR] at the bottom of the screen. You should read the back of the form before you start to fill in the form. You should complete the form very carefully by typing or printing the requested information. You may type directly on the web site form and print it out. Attach copies of documents, military records, evidence, and statements to support your application to your DD Form 149. Make sure you sign and date the DD Form 149. Mail it along with all your attachments to the Army address provided on the reverse of the DD Form 149. You should submit your application within 3 years after the error or injustice occurs.
4. When to Apply to the ABCMR. Public law requires that you submit your request for correction of military records within 3 years after the error or injustice occurs, or within 3 years after you discover the error or injustice. However, if you provide justification for exceeding this 3-year statue of limitation, the ABCMR will review the merits of untimely applications. The ABCMR may waive the untimeliness of your request in the interest of justice. However, you should not assume a waiver will be granted.
5. You Must Exhaust Administrative Remedies Before You Apply to the ABCMR. You must exhaust all other administrative remedies before appealing your case to the ABCMR. For example, if you have a performance evaluation report or a promotion issue, you must first appeal to the appropriate Department of the Army special review board or special selection board as specified in the related Army regulations. You must provide a copy of the documentation showing that you exhausted all other administrative remedies when submitting your application to the ABCMR. The ABCMR will consider your case only after you exhaust all other available administrative appeals or remedies. If you have not first applied for relief through the appropriate administrative process, the ABCMR will return your application to you without action.
a. Request for Discharge Characterization Upgrade or Change of Discharge Reason. If you are requesting an upgrade of your discharge characterization or a change of reason for a discharge that occurred within the last 15 years, you must submit a DD Form 293, Application for the Review of Discharge or Dismissal from the Armed Forces of the United States, to the Army Discharge Review Board (ADRB). The DD Form 293 is available on the Army Review Board Agency's web site at http://arba.army.pentagon.mil . If the ADRB denies your request or your discharge occurred more than 15 years ago, you can apply to the ABCMR on a DD Form 149 for consideration of upgrade of a discharge characterization or a change of a reason for discharge. However, if your discharge was directed by a general court-martial order, you must apply directly to the ABCMR on a DD Form 149 only for consideration of an upgrade of your discharge characterization or a change of a reason for discharge.
b. Request to change an RE (Reenlistment Eligibility) Code on a Separation Document. Army Regulation 601-210, Regular Army and Army Reserve Enlistment Program, allows RE code changes only if there is evidence the incorrect RE code for the reason for separation was entered on the separation document. No requirement exists to change an RE code to qualify for enlistment. At the time of enlistment, the enlistment activity may request a waiver for a disqualifying RE code. However, under current enlistment standards, the Army is granting very few such waivers.
c. Changes to a Court-Martial. The ABCMR may not disturb the finality of a court-martial. It may not retry elements of, or arguments presented before a court-martial or an appeal to a court-martial. It may not change the findings of a court-martial. The ABCMR may only consider clemency on the court-martial sentence when adequate evidence submitted warrants such a consideration. Clemency may allow a change in the character of the discharge or the sentence.
d. A Higher VA Disability Rating Does Not Mean the Army Discharge Disability Rating is Wrong. Title 38, United States Code, Sections 1110 and 1131, permit the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to award compensation for disabilities which were incurred in or aggravated by active military service. However, an award of a higher VA rating does not establish error or injustice in the Army rating.
(1) The Army rates only conditions determined to be physically unfitting at the time of discharge which disqualify the Soldier from further military service. The Army disability rating is to compensate the individual for the loss of a military career. The VA does not have authority or responsibility for determining physical fitness for military service. The VA awards disability ratings to veterans for service-connected conditions, including those conditions detected after discharge, to compensate the individual for loss of civilian employability. As a result, these two Government agencies, operating under different policies, may arrive at a different disability rating based on the same impairment. Unlike the Army, the VA can evaluate a veteran throughout his or her lifetime, adjusting the percentage of disability based upon that agency's examinations and findings.
(2) One common misconception is that all veterans can receive both a military retirement for physical unfitness and a VA disability pension. Not all retirees with disabilities are entitled to payment of both military retired pay and veteran's disability compensation. By law, most veterans are compensated only from one source for a disability. If a veteran is receiving a VA disability pension, and the ABCMR corrects the records to show that a veteran was retired for physical unfitness, the veteran may have to choose between the VA pension and the military retirement. Normally, the VA pension is more advantageous for lower graded Soldiers and military retirement is more advantageous for higher graded Soldiers. You should consult with a Veterans Affairs counselor or veterans services counselor to assess your individual entitlements.
e. Change of Name, Gender, or Social Security Number. If you have a name, gender, or social security number (SSN) change after discharge from the military, even if it is court ordered, the name and gender on your military records will not be changed since they are historical documents which record facts during the time you served in the military. If you need a certificate to show your current name or gender and that you served in the military under another, you can request such from the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records, 9700 Page Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63132-5100.
f. Replacement Military Awards. For replacement medals, you may write to the National Personnel Records Center, to the attention of Customer Service to request replacement medals and certificates. Please provide them copies of your separation and discharge documents with your request as well as orders for award of the medals if you have them.
g. Requests for Award of the Army Achievement Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Air Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, the Bronze Star Medal, Soldier's Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit, Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross, and the Medal of Honor.
(1) Public Law, Title 10, United States Code, Section 1130, permits you to: request a decoration you received be upgraded to a higher award; request award of a decoration you were submitted for, but did not receive; or request award of a decoration you believe you deserve but for which you were not recommended.
(2) A request for an award or upgrade of one of the above decorations
must be submitted on a DA Form 638, Award Recommendation, with supporting
documents and witness statements, through your Congressman for consideration
by the Army Decorations Board. The witness to the act completes a DA
Form 638, or, the applicant can complete this form. A DA Form 638 can
be obtained from a military Human Resource Office or online at:
(3) The address for the Army Decorations Board is: U. S. Army Human Resources Command, Military Awards Branch, ATTN: AHRC-PDO-PA, 200 Stovall St., Suite 3S67, Alexandria, VA 22332-0471.
(4) You may apply to the ABCMR for award or upgrade of a decoration ONLY AFTER the Army Decorations Board has made a decision on the DA Form 638.
h. Requests for Award of Service Medals, Badges, the Purple Heart, and Other Awards.
(1) You may request the record be corrected to show that you were awarded service medals, badges, the Purple Heart, and other awards not listed in paragraph g above by submitting a DD Form 149 to the ABCMR. You must include supporting documentation and evidence to justify the award.
(2) Award of the Purple Heart is made to Soldiers wounded, injured, or killed from an outside force or agent as a result of an action against an enemy or an act of any such enemy. Record of medical treatment by medical personnel as a matter of official record for the wounds or injuries received in action for which the recommended award is required. Army Regulation 600-8-22, Military Awards, provides the criteria for the award of the Purple Heart. You can view this Army Regulation online at http://www.usapa.army.mil.
i. Advancement on the Retired List to the Highest Grade Held. According to Public Law, Title 10, United States Code, Section 3964, enlisted and warrant officer retirees who satisfactorily held a higher grade on active duty, may apply for advancement to that grade on the retired list when their total years of service, including years of service on the retired list, equals thirty years. This applies to members of the Regular Army and to Reserve and National Guard members of the Army who were serving on active duty or full time duty at the time of retirement. Commissioned officer retirees are not eligible.
(1) In order to be advanced on the retired list to the highest grade
(2) For Regular Retirees, application for this advancement may be
(3) For Non-Regular Retirees. For those receiving a non-regular
(4) Medically Retired or Separated in a Lower Grade. If you were medically retired or separated in a lower grade without the benefit of a review by the Army Grade Determination Review Board (AGDRB), then you should apply for correction of military records. Complete a DD Form 149 and mail it, along with a copy of any relevant documents, to the address listed on the back of the DD Form 149. The ABCMR has jurisdiction to correct errors or injustices, and can act in place of the AGRDB in these cases. Further, the ABCMR reviews cases involving Soldiers who were never promoted to or held a higher grade while on active duty, but who believe they were denied a promotion or were not placed on the retired list in the appropriate grade due to some error or injustice. In these cases, make application to the ABCMR, using a DD Form 149, and include any documentary evidence supporting the specific contention of error or injustice.
(5) When to Apply for Advancement on the Retired List. The revised Army Regulation 15-80 no longer requires waiting until you reach your thirty-year mark before you can apply unless the reduction was caused by misconduct, inefficiency, or for cause. In fact, for people currently on active duty, when applying for retirement, an AGDRB will convene, if applicable, before they retire (unless the reduction was caused by misconduct, inefficiency, or for cause). However, if approved, advancement on the retired list will not occur until you reach the thirty-year mark. You may apply immediately with the understanding that the advancement on the retired list will not take place until you reach the thirty-year mark. Additionally, if you retired after August 12, 2002, without the benefit of an AGDRB determination of your eligibility for advancement, then you can apply immediately, unless the reduction was caused by misconduct, inefficiency, or for cause, in which case you must wait until the thirty-year mark to apply. .
(6) How to Apply for Grade Determination. If you qualify under Title 10, U. S. Code, Section 3964, you should request a review by the AGDRB (see AR 15-80 for a sample letter). Mail your letter to the Army Grade Determination Review Board, Army Review Boards Agency Support Division; ATTN: SFMR-RBR-SL; 9700 Page Avenue, St. Louis; Missouri 63132-5200. The ARBA Support Division will attach your official military personnel file (OMPF) to your letter and forward your application to the AGDRB at the Army Review Boards Agency in Arlington, Virginia. The AGDRB, consisting of three field grade officers, will convene to determine the highest grade you served satisfactorily while on active duty. Since you are not entitled to personally appear before the AGDRB, attach a copy of any documents relevant to your case.
(7) If the AGDRB determines that you should be advanced on the
j. Correction of Retirement Points. Detailed information about requesting correction of retirement points accounts can be found on the U. S. Army Human Resources Command-St. Louis (HRC-St. Louis) website, https://www.hrc.army.mil/site/reserve , under "Soldier Services," "Retirement," and "Point Corrections." If you have an Army Knowledge Online (AKO) account, login on the HRC-St. Louis Portal, access your retirement points account, print copies of your ARPC Form 249-2-E, Retirement Points Statement, and check on the status of retirement point corrections that have been submitted.
(1) Individual Mobilization Augmentees (IMA), Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) (including RTU), Active Guard Reserve (AGR), and Army Reserve Element (ARE - formerly JRU, Joint Reserve Unit) Soldiers must submit retirement point correction documents to their Regional Support Team (RST) at HRC-St. Louis. Contact information for RSTs are located on the above web site. To assist the retirement points analyst in making changes to your point account, provide proof of one or more of your performance documents (training records or pay records).
(2) Troop Program Unit (TPU) Soldiers must have their retirement point accounts updated/corrected by their Unit Administrators. Unit administrators submit corrections by electronic transactions through the Regional Level Application Software (RLAS) to Retirement Points Accounting System (RPAS). To assist your Unit Administrator in making changes to your point account, provide proof of one or more of your performance documents (training records or pay records).
(3) If you are a Gray Area Retiree (not drawing retired pay, not age 60), you must submit a written request for correction of your retirement points, to include supporting documentation, to the appropriate Regional Support Team (RST) at HRC-St. Louis. Contact information for RSTs is located on the above web site. For information about retirement pay process, visit the HRC-St. Louis website for information under "Retired Pay Processing - Ensuring Timely Processing."
(4) National Guard (NG) Soldiers have their retirement points recorded in a separate retirement point accounting system. Upon retirement, NG Soldier points do not automatically go into RPAS. The NGB Form 23 is used as a record of the NG duty performed by a Soldier. Before a former or retired member of the National Guard can start to draw retired pay, he or she must submit a retired pay certification packet (including a summary of all retirement points earned while in the National Guard) to the HRC-St. Louis Retired Pay Office. Upon certification of retired pay, HRC-St. Louis forwards the certification to the Defense Finance and Accounting System (DFAS).
k. Combat Related Special Compensation (CRSC). Application for CRSC by former Soldiers must first be made to the CRSC Board, U. S. Army Physical Disabilities Agency, Alexandria, Virginia. Complete information on applying and application can be found on their website - http://www.crsc.army.mil
CRSC is for military retirees only. Widows/widowers of military spouses or other family members are not eligible to receive this compensation.
There are two CRSC programs: CRSC I which began 1 June 2003 and CRSC II which began 1 January 2004 to offer compensation for a larger group of combat-disabled retirees. Eligibility requirements are as follows:
- Retired with at least 20 years of Active Duty or 7200 Reserve Service
Those who meet all of these CRSC I requirements are eligible to receive payment retroactive to 1 June 2003 or the date they are fully eligible.
- Retired with at least 20 years of Active Duty or a 20-year Retirement
Those who meet all of these CRSC II requirements are eligible to receive payment retroactive to 1 January 2004 or the date they are fully eligible.
If a former Soldier has been denied under CRSC I, they must apply under CRSC II before they can apply to the ABCMR. If the former Soldier feels that there is an error or injustice in your military record or in the CRSC decision that has resulted in the denial of the CRSC, they may apply for a correction of their military records on a DD Form 149. A copy of the CRSC decision and documents or evidence to prove that an error or injustice exists should be included with the DD Form 149.
6. Getting a Copy of Your Military Record. You may request a copy of your military records from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) if you are no longer in military service. Information on requesting a copy of your records can be found on the NPRC website:
You may also request a copy of your records by sending a Standard Form 180 (Request Pertaining to Military Records) to the address shown on the Standard Form 180. You do not need to obtain a copy of your military records from the NPRC to apply to the ABCMR. The ABCMR will obtain your records from the NPRC when your DD Form 149 is received. Please do not request a copy of your military records from the NPRC at the same time that you submit an application to the ABCMR. This will delay your ABCMR application until the NPRC copies your records for you.
7. The ABCMR is not a Research Agency. The ABCMR will review available official military records, but it is the applicant's responsibility to provide documents and evidence to support his or her contention of error or injustice.
8. Supporting Documents and Evidence. Each applicant is responsible
for providing documents and evidence with the DD Form 149 to support
the request for correction of an error or injustice. Please DO NOT send
original documents to the ABCMR with your application. DO send clear,
legible copies. Send a copy of your discharge or separation certificates
such as the DD Form 214,
Birth certificates must be notarized with a raised seal imprinted by the issuing records custodian certifying the certificates as true copies.
If you need to provide the ABCMR proof of your Social Security Number (SSN), a photocopy of your social security card is not sufficient. You must obtain a letter from the Social Security Administration verifying your Social Security Number.
A witness must sign witness statements, and a raised notary seal is required. Providing the names of witnesses is not enough. The ABCMR WILL NOT contact your witnesses to obtain witness statements. The best witness statements are from persons who have direct knowledge or involvement. Character references from community leaders and others who know you are helpful if you are requesting clemency based on post-service activities and accomplishments. You must decide what evidence will best support your case.
9. Your Statements on the DD Form 149. Your own statements on the application are very important. Identify exactly what error or injustice you want corrected in the record. Explain clearly what happened and why you believe the record is in error or unjust. Give the date, unit or organization, and location when the error or injustice occurred. You may continue your statements on the back of the DD Form 149 or on plain paper attached to your application.
10. Representation and Counsel. Most applicants represent themselves. However, you may choose to have a counsel represent you. Many veteran service organizations, such as the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Disabled American Veterans, or state veterans assistance offices, have staff members who can assist you or represent you in applying to the ABCMR. You may also hire a lawyer of your choice to represent you at your own expense. If you appoint a counsel, you should provide their name and address on the DD Form 149. If you name a counsel, the ABCMR may correspond with your counsel rather than directly with you.
11. Personal Appearances Before the ABCMR. You may request a personal
appearance before the ABCMR by checking the appropriate box on
12. Advisory Opinions. Once the ABCMR receives your application, one or more military agencies may prepare an advisory opinion about your case. An advisory opinion is only a recommendation. The ABCMR will make its own decision on your case. If the ABCMR obtains an advisory opinion about your case, you will be sent a copy. You will have 30 days to provide your comments back to the ABCMR before the ABCMR considers your case. You do not need to provide comments on the advisory opinion if you have nothing to add. Failure to comment on an advisory opinion does not mean you agree nor will it prevent a full and fair consideration of your application.
13. ABCMR Board Process. The Secretary of the Army appoints senior civilian employees of the Army to serve as board members for the ABCMR. Appointment as a board member to the ABCMR indicates a special trust in the judgment and integrity of the member. Service on the ABCMR is an additional duty for those appointed. Approximately 90 people serve on the ABCMR. Random configuration of board members into three-member panels for consideration of cases is the norm. Panels review cases on a first come, first served basis. The ABCMR staff members prepare cases for review by the panels and provide technical advice to the ABCMR panel members.
The ABCMR panel members review and discuss cases in closed session before making a recommendation to the Secretary of the Army. Evidence provided by the applicant, evidence in the applicant's official military records, and laws and regulations are the basis of ABCMR panel recommendations. When the panel votes on a case, the majority rules. However, a dissenting member may submit a minority opinion for consideration by the Secretary of the Army. The Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army, acting for the Secretary of the Army, approves or disapproves the ABCMR's recommendation. The ABCMR process is the highest level of administrative appeal and provides the final Army decision.
You will receive a letter notifying you of the decision on your request with a record of the ABCMR proceedings. The ABCMR proceedings explain the reasons for the decision in your case. If the ABCMR grants relief in your case, your records will be corrected and finance personnel will review your case to see if you are due any monetary benefits. If the ABCMR denies your case, you may apply on a new DD Form 149 for reconsideration as defined in paragraph 14 below or you may file a suit in the civilian court system.
14. Reconsideration of Your Case by the ABCMR. If the ABCMR receives a request for reconsideration within one year of the ABCMR's original decision and if the ABCMR has not previously reconsidered the matter, the ABCMR staff will review the request to determine if it contains evidence (including, but not limited to, any facts or arguments as to why relief should be granted) that was not in the record at the time of the ABCMR's prior consideration. If new evidence has been submitted, the request will be submitted to the ABCMR for its determination of whether the new evidence is sufficient to demonstrate material error or injustice. If no new evidence is found, the ABCMR staff will return the application to the applicant without action.
If the ABCMR receives a request for reconsideration more than one year after the ABCMR's original decision or after the ABCMR has already considered one request for reconsideration, then the case will be returned to the applicant without action and the applicant will be advised that the next remedy is appeal to a court of appropriate jurisdiction.
16. Answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
Q: I have a mandatory separation date approaching. Can the ABCMR suspend this action while my application is under review? A: No! While every effort will be made to process an application involving a retirement/separation, the fact an application has been submitted does not provide a basis to suspend the action. However, it is your responsibility to ensure the ABCMR is aware of a pending retirement/separation date.
Q: How long should it take to get an answer on my application? A: Based on the current number of applications being processed by the Board, it can take from 8 to 10 months to process and board your application. Applications are processed and boarded on a first-come first-served basis. When a decision is made on the Board's recommendation, you are sent a letter stating the decision with the reasons for the decision at the same time the affected military agencies are directed to make the necessary corrections.
Q: Who will know about my case? A: Submission of an application is a private matter between the applicant and the Board, its staff, and its technical advisors. The Privacy Act provisions apply.
Q: Who receives copies of the Board's decision documents? A: Copies of the Board's decision documents are furnished only to the applicant or the applicant's counsel. If a correction to the record is approved, the decision from the Board will be furnished to the appropriate Army agency to make the necessary corrections. A copy of the decision is also placed in your official military personnel record, normally in the restricted section, unless otherwise directed by the Board.
Q: How long will it take to get paid once the Board decision in my
favor is approved?
Q: Can I receive compensation (damages) from the ABCMR based on a substantiated injustice I suffered? A: No. Monetary settlement occurs only as a result of correcting the military record. Claims against the Government must be presented through the appropriate Federal court.
29 January 2008
The following service organizations have been approved by the Department of Defense to provide counseling, advise, representation and other assistance to veterans submitting applications to the Army Board for Correction of Military Records and the Army Discharge Review Board.
Disabled American Veterans
(Veterans Service Organization Directory - http://www1.va.gov/vso )