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I had an Entry Level Separation from the AF, do I need to put down i was in the military for a state background check?

El Paso, TX |

I was discharged from the Air Force in 2009 because of testing positive for drugs when I went to basic training. I had an Entry Level Separation with the cause being Fraudulent Enlistment, Drug Fraud. I want to apply to become a Teacher in TX, but I am very worried that I will not be offered any type of teaching position if they are aware of this. Do I have to even put down that I was in the military due to my discharge being an ELS? I would like to omit that I was in the Air Force but I am worried they will be able to pull up my discharge even if I do not put on my application that I was in the military. If I put down that I was in the military, will they be able to see that I was discharged due to Drug Usage?

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Attorney answers 4


If the background forms ask, then you must answer the question honestly. They may only see the what is on the DD 214, you don't answer honestly you are subject all the legal issues that go with the lie... You won't get any attorney here to condone lying on a background.

Fraudulent enlistment, wanting to hide the background, I see a pattern here

This is for general information only. Nothing in this information should be construed as creating an attorney-client relationship nor shall any of this information be construed as providing legal advice. Laws change over time and differ from state to state. These answers are based on California Law.Applicability of the legal principles discussed may differ substantially in individual situations. You should not act upon the information presented herein without consulting an attorney about your particular situation. No attorney-client relationship is established.


The language on the DD 214 isn't very flattering for sure, however, assuming you were young - smoked weed or something before boot camp - and got discharged for it - and then went to college and now hop to teach - you may survive disclosure. 18 year olds do dumb things - and they so grow up by the time they hit 22. I would just want to do so with an explanation, ie don't just toss them your DD 214 and say here you go. A sincere explanation goes quite a way. Now if you're a hard core drug user, that probably won't work.

You might think about trying to join the reserves or national guard. When I was an Operations Officer at a recruiting station, we could write waivers for such things after a period if time, usually a year. You've had 4 years, have a college degree, it seems like you've done well. Times have changed, but that might still be an option and one that might save your teaching desire - because, then you could say you were currently in the Reserves or NG.

You didnt give a lot of facts about what happened, so these are a couple thoughts based on speculation. Also, we don't know exactly how the question reads. Bottom line, the other attorney is correct - no one here should tell you to lie...and it would do you no good anyway.

You can contact my office for a consultation if you wish.


Yes, you must disclose. But I have a client with an Other Than Honorable Discharge that is a school principle. So this is not a show stopper.

This post is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney client relationship with Mr. Cassara.


An ELS discharge is a different animal altogether than the traditional discharges that a service member will have assigned to them upon separation to characterize the quality of their term of service.
I came across this in an article from the Air Force Times from 2008:
"An ELS does not qualify as an honorable or general discharge — the characterization of service is, in effect, uncharacterized. It basically means the commander did not have enough time to make a fair decision as to the overall service characterization."

The article also stated:
"Unlike an "other than honorable" discharge, an ELS is unlikely to have a negative impact on future employment. However, members seeking an ELS should be aware that some employers might shy away from hiring someone who could not adapt to life in the military.
Also, be aware that once an ELS is given, the member is not eligible for veterans benefits or other medical benefits provided through military service."

Basically, while you didn't quite "fit" the military mold, your service was neither good nor bad.

Bottom line- if an application or opportunity asks about military service or previous drug use, you would be well advised to always answer truthfully the question as asked. Start out on the right foot, then you wont have to worry about it later. But, would an employer find out WHY you received an ELS through some type of database or background check? Likely not, unless you were applying for a government position or one that required a security clearance. The military doesn't make it a habit of broadcasting the specifics of why people were released, some of the reasons are highly sensitive and no ones business except the service branch and the person themselves. To my knowledge, the only service discharge that will pop up right away on most background checks is a dishonorable which is considered in many states to be the equivalent to a felony conviction.

Hope it helps. Good Luck!

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