If you are an active duty military member or veteran who is facing involuntary separation from military service, you may not be sure how to proceed. Discharge boards have the power to dramatically impact a service member’s life. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed in the face of such a weighty situation. The lawyers at Military Trial Defenders can help.
What is a Military Discharge?
Once an individual signs a military contract, he or she enters into a mutual and binding agreement with the United States military. The service member agrees to fulfill all duties and functions required of military personnel. In exchange, the military promises to provide a job, health care, and vacation leave. Generally, this agreement is in effect until the termination of the enlistment contract, at which point a military member can choose to continue or to retire. In some instances, however, early termination results due to administrative or disciplinary separation. This is otherwise known as a military discharge.
Punitive discharges are punishments stemming from violations of the UCMJ. A courts-martial authorizes these punishments. There are two types of punitive discharges. Dishonorable Discharge refers to separation under dishonorable conditions. Bad-Conduct Discharge refers to separation under conditions other than honorable. Administrative separations are not punitive in nature. Rather, military personnel can be separated on a basis. This could depend on government convenience, weight or health issues, patterns of misconduct, or poor quality of service.
What are Discharge Boards?
Each of the military branches maintains a review board that has the authority to apply discharges and review or modify discharges or dismissals that did not result from a general court-martial. An administrative discharge board has at least three experienced commissioned, warrant, or non-commissioned officers. If enlisted personnel are appointed, the must be senior to the respondent and in grade E-7 or above. These discharge boards have the power to correct or upgrade military records.
According to the Military Times, the Defense Department is engaged in a renewed effort to ensure military members and veterans know how to request a review of their service records. All military personnel who believe they have experienced injustice or an error have the right to request relief from their branch’s review board.
Approaching Discharge Review Boards with Confidence
The attorneys at Military Trial Defenders understand the importance of approaching discharge boards with a wise defense strategy and a solid argument for retention. So, if you are looking to avoid a discharge or are seeking to change, correct, or modify your discharge, consult with one of our experienced team members for advice on how to proceed.