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How Long Does It Take To Upgrade A Military Discharge


How To Get Help

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With few exceptions, the DRB can consider all discharges for an upgrade. The board cannot, however, change a punitive discharge imposed by a court-martial.

Most applicants represent themselves. However, you can get someone to represent you if your request is complex.

  • Many veteran service organizations have staff members who will represent you in applying to the board and assist you in completing the necessary paperwork.
  • You may hire a lawyer to represent you at your own expense.
  • Name your representative on DD Form 249, item 6.
  • If you name a representative, the board will normally deal with your representative rather than directly with you.

What Evidence Should I Include

Remember that your goal with this application is to present material evidence that was unavailable at your time of discharge. Supporting documentation should strengthen your claim that you received an improper discharge status when you separated from service.

Evidence may include VA military medical records, VA medical records, or medical records from a private medical practitioner. In many cases, you can request that a treating physician or counselor write a letter of support for your claim. Its often helpful to include letters from supervisors, family, and friends outlining how the mental health condition has affected your daily life.

If you are applying for a discharge upgrade related to military sexual trauma, any documentation or evidence you have surrounding the MST event and your response can help illustrate how the experience may have affected your discharge status.

What Will The Hearing Be Like

A hearing will often last about an hour, but possibly longer. Usually the Discharge Review Board consists of five officers and other senior members of the active military. You have a choice about whether to testify or not. If you testify under oath, the members of the board can ask you questions. Some vets prefer to make a statement to avoid this.

Each person gets one vote, and you will be awarded a discharge upgrade if the majority of the board members cast a vote in your favor.

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What Can A Discharge Review Board Do

Discharge review boards can do the following.

  • Upgrade general discharges, other than honorable discharges, and special court-martial bad conduct discharges, and
  • Change the reason for discharge.

If you have a general courts-martial discharge or want to a change your discharge to or from medical retirement or medical discharge, you will have to apply to the Board for Correction of Military Records. DRBs do not have authority to make these sorts of changes.

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Option : Change In The Narrative Reason For Separation

The second way to change the characterization of your military discharge on your DD-214 Discharge Certificate, is to change the Narrative Reason for Separation. Among the many possible narrative reasons for separation listed on your DD-214 Certificate could be: misconduct, disability, personality disorder, homosexual conduct, to name just a few.

As long as youre within the deadlines discussed for a Discharge Upgrade, a DRB has the authority to also Change the Narrative Reason for Separation shown on your DD-214 unless of course, youre trying to change the reason for a discharge that was based on a disability, as discussed above.

The forms and procedures for applying for a Change in the Narrative Reason are the same as the forms and procedures for applying for a Discharge Upgrade. If the DRB lacks the authority to change the reason, or if it denies your application for a change, you can then apply to a BCMR or the BCNR.

Please note that the evidence you need to submit for a Change in the Narrative Reason for Separation may be somewhat different from what you would submit for a Discharge Upgrade. For example, if the military discharged you with a narrative reason of personality disorder, but a psychiatrist or psychologist later diagnosed you with PTSD, youll want to submit evidence showing the new diagnosis.

Applying For An Upgrade To Military Discharge After 15 Years

Under the law, you must make your application for discharge upgrade within 15 years of discharge. If your discharge is older than 15 years, you must apply for a change to your military records.

The application is a simple process. You should use a DD Form 293, Application for the Review of Discharge or Dismissal from the Armed Forces of the United States. In addition to downloading the form, DD Form 293 is available at most DoD installations and regional offices of the Department of Veterans Affairs, or by writing to your service’s discharge review board.

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Choose Whether You Want A Personal Appearance Or Documentary Review Of Your Request

Lastly, when submitting your Discharge Upgrade paperwork to a Discharge Review Board you have the option of choosing between a Documentary Review or a Personal Appearance Review .

In a Documentary Review, the DRB considers evidence from your service records, together with any other written evidence or argument that you submit. A Personal Appearance Review, however, is where the DRB considers both your evidence from your service records and allows you to present your case in person to a panel of military personnel. These Personal Appearance Review hearings are often held in or near Washington, D. C., but the Air Force and Army DRBs occasionally visit other cities to conduct hearings. In some cases, you may even be able to get a telephonic hearing.

Most BCMR and BCNR decisions are based only on paperwork, however. Very rarely will they give you permission to tell your story in person at a hearing. If they do give you that option, youll need to travel to the Board headquarters, in or near Washington, D. C. at your own expense.

Please know, though, that while obtaining a hearing may give you an opportunity to argue your case in person, and thus increase your likelihood of success, it can also significantly decrease the time your application is processed since obtaining a hearings takes a significant amount of time. In other words, requesting a review of your paperwork can often mean a quicker outcome, than waiting for a hearing.

How Long Does It Take To Correct A Dd214

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If you have lost your DD form 214 and have requested a replacement copy from the National Archive, its important to review your DD214 once you get the replacement copy-any corrections to your DD214 could take several weeks to several months to become official, and if you need accurate information quickly for a VA home

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Should I Hire A Discharge Upgrade Lawyer

Hiring a discharge upgrade lawyer can be a big decision. You might be wondering whether it is worth hiring a discharge upgrade lawyer at all or you might be wondering how to find the right discharge upgrade lawyer.

In order to determine whether it makes financial sense to hire a discharge upgrade lawyer to handle your case, you will want to consider the likelihood of being upgraded. If your chances are slim and your finances are tight, for example, it might not make sense to pursue a discharge upgrade lawyer. If, on the other hand, you have a good chance at obtaining an upgrade, and such an upgrade would help in terms of broadening future employment opportunities or increasing benefits available to you, then hiring a discharge upgrade lawyer would probably be a wise investment.

Discharge upgrade lawyer Brett OBrien offers a free consultation specifically to help you evaluate these factors. We will properly evaluate your case and provide open and honest feedback even if that means tell you that your chances are slim.

Moreover, beyond merely filling out the DD-293, your discharge upgrade lawyer will request and review relevant records, gather other documentary evidence, draft an accompanying legal brief and prepare for your hearing before the board. This is a significantly time consuming process.

How Do I Request A Military Discharge Upgrade

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A military discharge upgrade can be an important step in the life of a veteran who believes that he or she received a lower discharge than what was deserved. Various federal and state benefits are available only to veterans who were discharged at an acceptable level. The best discharge is an Honorable discharge, which should enable the veteran to access all benefits. General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions is the second highest level. Other Than Honorable Conditions Discharge is the third level, while a Bad Conduct Discharge is the fourth. Dishonorable is the lowest level of discharge and is reserved for those convicted of serious crimes while in the military. Veterans who receive a Dishonorable Discharge forfeit all benefits, cannot lawfully possess a firearm, and forfeit their right to vote. For more information about types of military discharges, you should refer to this article.1

What Evidence Must I Include In a Discharge Upgrade Request?

If you are a veteran who wants to upgrade your military discharge, you must first determine which board to apply to. Then you need to request your military records. One way to request this information is through filling out form SF180.2 You may also use DD Form 2870 to request medical and dental records. VA form 10-5345 and 10-5345a allow disclosure of medical or dental records kept by the VA.


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Navy Will Reevaluate Discharge Upgrade Applications For Sailors Marines With Ptsd Tbi Other Conditions

The Navy is reevaluating discharge upgrade applications of sailors and Marines who were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, and other mental health or behavioral conditions.

The examination stems from a preliminary settlement a federal judge approved this week regarding the class-action lawsuit Manker v. Del Toro, which was originally filed by the Yale Law School Veterans Legal Services Clinic in 2018.

The suit alleged that thousands of sailors and Marines were discharged with other than honorable or general characterizations of service, due to behavior connected to conditions like PTSD.

As a result of the pending agreement, discharge-status-upgrade decisions from the Naval Discharge Review Board spanning from March 2, 2012 to the effective date of settlement will automatically be reviewed in situations where the applicant didnt receive an upgrade to honorable discharge, and were affected by or displayed evidence of the aforementioned conditions.

Those who fit this criteria will be contacted by the Navy to provide further evidence, along with referral information, potentially free legal representation and medication services.


A virtual settlement fairness hearing is slated for Dec. 16, where those impacted by the settlement can comment, according to the terms of the agreement.


Military Times deputy editor Leo Shane contributed to this report.

Who Will Know About My Case

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Submission of an application is a private matter between the applicant and the Board/Board staff. Only the applicant and those that the applicant authorizes in writing, such as counsel, will know about the case. However, some application information may be shared if the Board or Board staff requests an advisory opinion from other agencies that may possess relevant information or if any official agency that has a need to know requests information on individual cases. Under all circumstances, further release of information will be governed by the Privacy Act to protect the applicant’s information.

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What To Submit With Your Application

Request your military and/or medical records so you can submit any needed records with your application. For information about obtaining your records, visit the National Personnel Records Center website.

Submit any medical and/or military records that relate to the issues that relate to your upgrade request. For instance, if you are arguing that post-traumatic stress disorder caused the bad conduct that led to your “bad paper,” it will be important to get a medical opinion from a doctor supporting your claim. Medical records showing you are clean and sober will also help.

In addition, submitting the following may influence the Discharge Review Board in your favor:

  • your statement
  • information about your good conduct after service .

How Long Do I Have To Request An Upgrade

You have 15 years from the date of your discharge to apply for an upgrade to your discharge status or the reason for your discharge through the Discharge Review Board . If it’s been longer than 15 years, even though the DRB can’t help, you can still request a “correction” to your military records from the Board of Corrections for Military Records . There is a three-year statute of limitations for submitting requests to the Board of Corrections for Military Records but very frequently BCMRs accept late applications as long as a good reason for the delay is provided.

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What To Do If Your Discharge Upgrade Application Was Denied

If your previous upgrade application was denied, you can apply again, but you may have to follow a different process. Click the Get Started button above. When youre asked if youve applied before, select Yes. After youve answered all the questions, youll see application instructions specific to your situation.

The Discharge Review Board

How do you discharge a capacitor?

The DRB has the power to: alter your reason for discharge and upgrade your discharge. That means that the DRB cannot reinstate your service membership, alter re-enlistment codes, or modify any other contents of your military records. Typically, service members discharges can be upgrades as highlighted below:

  • A General can be changed to an Honorable
  • An Other-Than-Honorable discharge can be changed to a General or an Honorable
  • A Bad Conduct Discharge from a Special Court-martial can be altered to Other-Than-Honorable, General, or Honorable
  • An Other-Than-Honorable discharge given while in still in the entry-level status can be changed to an uncharacterized discharge.

Its important to note that the discharge review board cannot review a discharge resulting from a court-martial decision. Besides, a DRB cannot make a discharge worse, pardon, or overturn a court-martial conviction.

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Four: Decide Whether It Makes Sense To Request A Hearing

It is important to note up front that though hearings might increase your chance of success, requesting one may delay a decision on your application.

With a DRB, you have a choice. You can choose between a Documentary Review and a Personal Appearance Review .

In a Documentary Review, the DRB considers evidence from your service records, together with any other written evidence or argument that you submit. You tell your story on paper, and explain why you think your discharge should be upgraded.

In a Personal Appearance Review, the DRB also considers evidence from your service records, together with any other paperwork you submit, but youâre also able to tell your story and make your arguments directly to a panel of military personnel. Theyâll have a chance to judge your case in person.

If you apply to a DRB, itâs almost always better to request a Documentary Review first If you choose a Personal Appearance Review first, youâll forfeit the right to a Documentary Review later.

On the other hand, if the Board turns you down after a Documentary Review, you can then apply for a Personal Appearance Review, as long as youâre still within the applicable deadlines. That gives you two chances for an upgrade at the DRB. And if there is an unfavorable Documentary Review, the decision may give you clues to the evidence and arguments that you should present at the Personal Appearance Review.

Its Difficult But Not Impossible To Get Your Bad Paper Discharge Upgraded To Honorable Or Get The Reasons For Your Discharge Changed

Some veterans want their discharge changed even if they remain eligible for many VA benefits, because they feel it dishonors the service they provided to their country. Other veterans want their discharge changed because they feel that after serving their country it is grossly unfair that they are denied VA benefits.

There are two different types of military boards that can review your discharge papers. One is the Discharge Review Board , which will be discussed in this article. The other is the Board of Correction for Military Records . Each board has different authority, which is important to understand so you will know where to apply.

It can be very difficult to get a discharge upgrade, even with the information in this article, so it is advisable to retain an attorney after you learn about the basics.

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How Long Does The Military Discharge Process Take

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Many people contact us to ask how long a military discharge upgrade takes. The process can take anywhere from several months to a couple of years. The amount of time can vary by service branch and whether you are doing a record review or a personal appearance before the board.

Additionally, how long does Adsep process take? 2 months

how do you get discharged from the military?

  • Fulfilling Your Obligation. The most straightforward way of getting discharged from the Army is to simply fulfill your contract.
  • Hardship or Dependency. You don’t necessarily have to complete your tour with the Army in order to receive an honorable discharge.
  • Entry Level Separation.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Is a general discharge bad?

    General discharge This status level could be a reflection of questionable conduct for military members, or perhaps medical reasons for a premature discharge and in most cases this discharge status level is involuntary.

    What Does Liberal Mean


    The military service review boards have wide latitude and discretion to review and assess each case independently in order to correct errors and rectify inequity. While we cannot predict the outcomes, this guidance is intended to ease the application process for veterans who are seeking redress by explaining what supporting evidence would aid their case and assist the Boards in reaching fair and consistent results in these cases.

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