Former service members may not be eligible for service-connected compensation and other benefits if they receive a dishonorable discharge. Were you separated with an Other Than Honorable classification of service? If so, this guide is for you.
Request a Discharge Classification Upgrade
Members of each branch may request an upgrade of a less than honorable discharge through their branch's Discharge Review Board. To do so, you must submit a DD Form 293 with supporting evidence to prove that there was an inequity or impropriety in the discharge. There is a hard deadline of 15 years from discharge to submit this application. In certain circumstances, it may be necessary to submit a similar application or an appeal of a decision to that branch's Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR). The BCMR requires that DD Form 149 be submitted and that you establish that an error or injustice occurred. The BCMR allows three years from the date of the error or injustice, but may waive the statute of limitations in the interest of justice.
Ask the VA to Consider the Service as Something Other than Dishonorable
You may be able to petition the VA to render a determination that your service is something other than dishonorable. If you have an incomplete, but notable period of honorable service, you may want to petition the VA to render such a determination. While this will have no effect with regard to your actual discharge, the VA may review your service and determine that it was honorable enough to get you over certain benefit thresholds. This is especially important for individuals who were injured on active duty. I was recently able to obtain benefits for a service member who went decades without benefits after he was injured in Korea.
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