The Veteran's Self-Help Guide to Discharge Upgrading

You, the veteran with the Bad Discharge Paper, know the problems it can cause; keeping you from good jobs, from using the Montgomery GI Bill you earned, from free medical care, or forcing you to hide a part of your life. You are not alone. Thousands of men and women leave the service each year with General Discharges, Undesirable Discharges (now called "Under Other Than Honorable Conditions" (OTH) Discharges. Including the blue discharges issued to WW-II vets, as many as 3 million bad discharges have been given. Often it didn't take much to get kicked out -- you got drunk a few times; left base to take care of family or personal problems when you couldn't wait for official permission; developed a personality conflict with your Commanding Officer or simply couldn't handle what you were asked to do. Your Commander may have offered you a discharge; and you took the offer without really understanding its impact. You may even think that what you did was wrong, but to be labeled "undesirable" or have a suspicious "General" discharge for the rest of your life is too much to pay.
You can do something about it now and you have nothing to lose by trying. The process is completely private; no one will come around to interview your neighbors or tell your employer, and don't worry; an up-grade does not mean you have to go back into the military. The discharge you have now cannot be made worse either. Even if you've been through the process once before and were turned down, you can often apply again. Some types of cases often result in an easy change in discharge (ONCE YOU APPLY). Examples of these cases are discharges after serving in Vietnam; discharge for homosexual acts, discharges from the 1960's and early 1970's for drug or alcohol-related problems. For "character" and "behavior" disorders, all cases where you can argue you were treated unfairly. types of discharges from the 1940's and 1950's, and cases where you can argue you were treated unfairly While some reviewing boards are better than others, the current overall up-grade rate is approximately 10%. The bottom line is that you will get no change without first making an application.


To up-grade your discharge, first get your Service Records, then apply to the Discharge Review Board or Board for Correction of Military Records. Which Board you use depends partly on what law permits and partly on what you want. You are asking the Board to consider whether your discharge is both fair and proper. The board looks at your official records, your application and your careful explanation about why you should get an up-grade and other supporting letters and documents you provide. Sometimes the Board only considers your request after you meet with it in a formal hearing. The board votes on your case and then mails you a written decision.