I am assuming this discharge is administrative in nature. The short answer is that the VA is the keeper of all benefits and with a General (under Honorable Conditions) discharge should allow you to keep your benefits that the VA grants. You will not be able to re-enlist, but your benefits are safe per the VA. Make sure to contact a service organization once you are discharged such as the DAV to help you apply to the VA for any service related disability or with any questions. Moreover, the area defense counsel or trial defense counsel on your base can assist you if you wish to receive further information.
To be eligible for VA benefits, an individual must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. While this seems to preclude all discharges except a true “dishonorable” discharge or dismissal, the VA also lists other factors that may disqualify an individual regardless of character of discharge. These reasons can be found at 38 CFR 3.12.
Additionally, you may not be able to qualify for the GI bill unless you have received fully “Honorable” discharge.
With a “General” discharge, an individual can usually receive compensation and pension benefits, VA healthcare, VA home loans, burial services, and other benefits provided they are not otherwise barred.
You mentioned you were in for 5 years. Did you reenlist? If so, in most cases if the earlier discharge you received was “Honorable”, then you may use the benefits accrued from that date. I should also mention that there is a process in which an individual may “upgrade” the characterization of their discharge
If you have any questions, please call my office at 919-321-6569, and I will be happy to talk about some of the particulars of your situation
Welcome back to civilian life brother!
The preceding is offered as general legal advice based on the information provided. As such, any reader should contact a licensed attorney to discuss the specifics of their case and how it relates to the law.
That is correct that the VA determines what benefits you are entitled to with a General Discharge. In general the only benefit you are not entitled to with a General vice Honorable discharge are GI Bill benefits.
I would strongly recommend that you discuss this issue with a JAG defense attorney.
NOTE: The information above is intended as general legal information based on minimal information, and does not constitute legal advice. This information does not constitute communication with an attorney, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship or any of the privileges that relationship provides.