ExclusiveHow To Find Out Your Military Discharge Status

How To Find Out Your Military Discharge Status


Four: Decide Whether It Makes Sense To Request A Hearing

Military Discharge Status, Upgrades, and VA Benefits

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.

What Is A General Discharge

Another type of military discharge you may hear about is whats known as a General Discharge.

A general discharge may or may not mean that the service member did something wrong. It is not punitive but does mean that some particular condition or circumstance warranted the members separation from the military.

A general discharge would not be considered bad, but its also not ideal.

The exception to this would be a General Under Honorable Conditions, which is considered ideal.

To Obtain A Copy Of A Discharge:

A copy of a Military Discharge may be made only for the Veteran, surviving spouse, and certain third parties defined by State law. Discharges are not available for genealogy or other research purposes. Military Discharges recorded with Missouri and Illinois Recorders of Deeds are closed records.

Mail or bring your Application for Military Discharge Copies form and copy of Drivers License or State Identification Card to:

Military Discharge RecordsSt. Louis City Recorder and RegistrarCity Hall, Room 124, 1200 Market StreetSt. Louis, Missouri 63103

8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday


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One: Figure Out Where You Need To Apply To Get An Upgrade

Where you should apply depends on your branch of service, date of discharge, and the type of change you want to be made to your military record.

What are the types of review Boards?

The Air Force, Army, and Coast Guard have their own Discharge Review Boards . The Navy and Marine Corps have a joint DRB.

The Air Force, Army, and Coast Guard also have their own Boards for Correction of Military Records . The Navy and Marine Corps have a joint Board for Correction of Naval Records .

What powers do the Boards have?

A DRB has limited powers. It can upgrade a discharge, unless the discharge resulted from a General Court-Martial. It can also change the reason for a discharge, except that it canât change the reason toâor fromâa disability discharge. And thatâs all a DRB can do.

If youâre seeking anything else, you must apply to a BCMR or BCNR to correct your military records.

A BCMR or BCNR wonât accept your application unless youâve tried the other possible ways of getting what youâre after. This means that if you are requesting something that a DRB can do â a discharge upgrade, a change in the reason for your discharge, or both â you must first apply to a DRB, unless the deadline for applying to the DRB has passed. If you are requesting anything else, you can bypass the DRB and apply directly to a BCMR or BCNR.

What are the deadlines to apply to the Boards?

DRB deadline: You have 15 years from the date of your discharge to apply to a DRB.

How Is A Designee Assigned

Free Legal Assistance Military Discharge Upgrade

A veteran or a duly appointed representative may file a “REQUEST FOR DISCLOSURE OF DISCHARGE PAPERS” designating an individual to have access and/or obtain copies of exempted military discharge papers. This form may be recorded with the County Auditors office or may be maintained by the veteran.

NOTE: An organization cannot be assigned as a designee

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How Do I Get Access / Copy Of Exempt Discharge Papers

A veteran, the veteran’s next of kin, a deceased veteran’s properly appointed personal representative or executor, a person holding the veteran’s general power of attorney, or individuals designated, may submit a “REQUEST FOR Access / Copy of Exempt DISCHARGE PAPERS” to the county auditor in order to obtain access / copy of exempt discharge papers.

Obtaining Service Records Using Sf

To request military personnel records, download an SF-180 form, fill it out and mail it back to the NPRC at:

National Personnel Records CenterSt. Louis, Missouri 63138.

You can also fax the form to the NPRC at 801-9195.

If you cant download an SF-180, you can use this inquiry form to ask the NPRC to mail you an SF-180.

If you are a dead veterans next-of-kin, you can fill out an SF-180 form or use an online order form to request the veterans separation documents, including a DD-214.

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How Do You Get An Other Than Honorable Discharge

Items punishable under the UCJM but are not considered serious civilian crimes often result in an other than honorable discharge.

These include things such as:

  • Security violations
  • Use of violence
  • Drug or Alcohol abuse

It may include instances where the service member serves time in a civilian prison for an offense.

Determine The Custodian Of Record

Upgrade YOUR Other Than Honorable Discharge: How to Get Service-Connected Veterans Benefits

Select the soldiers service branch in Column 1 of the first table on page 3 of SF-180, choosing from Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines or Coast Guard.

In the second column, choose the designation that applies to the person you are researching. The rows for each branch of the military are divided by time period. For example, the second row in Column 2 is for Air Force personnel deceased, discharged or retired for the period from 5/1/1994 to 9/30/2004.

Follow the correct row to the third column in the table, which is labeled Personnel Record. Circle the code on the form.

In the second table on page three, find the mailing code you circled on the page above and note the corresponding address. This is the address to which you will mail or fax your completed SF-180.


  • You do not have to fill in every identity component to submit the form, but the archive may not be able to fulfill your petition if too many items are missing.


  • If you are unsure of which branch of the military the person you are researching served in, file a separate form for each branch.


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Changing Upgrading Military Discharge Status

Again, a character of service determination is what VA is going to consider when determining whether you are eligible to receive benefits or not. However, many people want to actually change the discharge status itself. There are two bodies that you can do this with depending on your case: the Discharge Review Board or the Board of Corrections of Military Records. Each has different jurisdictional limitations of what they can look at:

Dd Form 214 Discharge Papers And Separation Documents

A Report of Separation is generally issued when a service member performs active duty or at least 90 consecutive days of active duty training. The Report of Separation contains information normally needed to verify military service for benefits, retirement, employment, and membership in veterans’ organizations. Information shown on the Report of Separation may include the service member’s:

  • Date and place of entry into active duty
  • Home address at time of entry
  • Date and place of release from active duty
  • Home address after separation

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How Do You Get A General Discharge

Nonjudicial punishment most often results in a general discharge, under honorable conditions.

This means that if a service member does something that warrants punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice but does not break a civilian law.

Examples of things punishable under the UCMJ include:

  • Failure to maintain physical standards
  • Failure to meet professional qualification requirements, and
  • Any other failure to meet a military standard.

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Is An Other Than Honorable Discharge Considered Bad

Law Archives

An Other Than Honorable discharge is administrative in nature but does come with some restrictions on veterans benefits.

It is the most serious type of administrative discharge.

While it may not come with jail or prison time, it is considered bad within the military and may be viewed similarly by potential employers.

Because it is often the result of misconduct on the part of the service member, they should be prepared to explain what led to their separation from the military under an Other Than Honorable discharge.

This is particularly true for federal employment, as potential employers will ask for their DD-214.

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Website Of The Charity Organization

You can request a copy of the Veterans military records in any of these ways:

  • Mail or fax a Request Pertaining to Military Records to the National Personnel Records Center .
  • Write a letter to the NPRC.
  • Visit the NPRC in person.
  • Contact your state or county Veterans agency.
  • About Military Service Records And Official Military Personnel Files

    If you’ve been discharged from military service, your personnel files are stored here at the National Archives and Records Administration . We are the official repository for records of military personnel who have been discharged from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard.

    If you are a recently separated veteran, records can be found online via the VA eBenefits portal. However, most veterans and their next-of-kin can obtain free copies of their DD Form 214 and other records several ways:

    Military personnel records are primarily administrative records and can contain information such as:

    • enlistment/appointment
    • and other personnel actions.

    Detailed information about the veteran’s participation in military battles and engagements is NOT contained in the record.

    Most Official Military Personnel Files contain both personnel and active duty health records, but this practice was discontinued by the service branches beginning in 1992. See Military Medical and Health Records for more details.

    In an effort to expand access to and ensure the preservation of the records, the National Archives and Records Administration together with the Department of Defense developed a schedule, signed July 8, 2004, making the Official Military Personnel Files permanent records of the United States. This schedule mandates the legal transfer of these files from DOD ownership to NARA ownership 62 years after the service member’s separation from the military.

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    Foia And The Privacy Act

    To request any part of an official military personnel file, youll need to send a Freedom of Information Act request to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.

    The NPRC safeguards more than 70 million service records from the Department of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

    FOIA allows anyone with a statutory right to view executive branch information to request some service documents without consent from a veteran or next-of-kin.

    These documents include the veteran or service members:

    • Name
    • Date and geographical location of death
    • Place of burial

    Military separation documents , replacement records and medical records are not open to the public.

    Determining Veteran Status Eligibility

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    Service Records: Proving Your Eligibility

    For a veteran to show theyre eligible for benefits, they must first present the VA office with an official copy of their DD Form 214/215, or NGB 22/22A, which are some of the most significant documents issued by the military. They are a requirement for all VA business and inquiries in addition to several state and federal veterans benefits programs.

    DD Forms 214 and 215For active-duty members and members of the Reserves, DD Forms 214 and 215 are considered documentation of military service. DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge provides the VA with time in reserve and active-duty, military job, awards, education, dates, and locations the individual entered and left the military, military assignments, and reason for leaving the service and characterization of discharge. DD Form 215, on the other hand, records and corrects any mistakes that might be added to DD Form 214 after being delivered.

    Of these forms there are two versions:

    • The deleted version can be shown to promising civilian employers during job applications, and it omits the characterization of discharge and reason for discharge.
    • The undeleted version is mandatory when applying for VA benefits and includes discharge characterization and the reason for discharge.

    Getting replacement copies of DD Form 214, 215

    SF Form 180 is available for download from:

    Mail the completed form to:

    National Personnel Records Center9700 Page Ave.St. Louis, MO 63132-5100

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    Is A Medical Discharge Considered Honorable

    A medical discharge is usually a type of general discharge, with the exact circumstances listed specifically on the service members DD-214.

    Medical-related discharges vary the most, as the severity and circumstances under which the condition began can impact the type of discharge a service member will receive.

    Most receive an honorable or general discharge, under honorable conditions. This can be the case even if the injury or illness was sustained outside of the scope of official military duties.

    A Medical Review Board looks at each individual case to determine the most appropriate course of action, including which type of discharge is warranted, should the member need to be separated from the military.

    When the medical condition is identified immediately following the service members entry to the military and is deemed a pre-existing condition, it is more likely that the member will receive a general discharge, with the exact reason specified.

    Because most veterans benefits are available for those with general discharges, discharge resulting from a medical condition is not seen as punitive.

    This distinction is most critical when the military member needs ongoing medical care as a result of their condition, such as mental health care or physical rehabilitation.

    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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    Different Classes Of Discharge

    There are several types of discharge, reflecting the service member’s performance:

    • Entry-level separation: they simply didn’t fit the military. They can only get this one during the first 180 days of service.
    • Honorable: during their time in the service, their performance was good or exceptional.
    • General discharge under honorable conditions: Satisfactory performance.
    • Other than honorable: the veteran fell short in some fashion.
    • Bad conduct: a punitive discharge based on a court-martial.
    • Dishonorable: another court-martial discharge. The circumstances typically involve something on the level of rape or murder.

    Changing Your Discharge Status

    DD 214

    Help After You’re Out: Changing Your Discharge Status

    The nature of your discharge can impact your ability to get veterans benefits or even find a job. Many veterans have successfully had their discharge corrected or changed. Each of the branches of the military, including the U.S. Coast Guard, has their own discharge review boards. These boards have the authority to change or correct any discharge or dismissal from the Service, unless it was the result of a general court martial. A discharge board has no authority to address medical discharges.

    If you feel your discharge decision was not fair or did not consider all the facts in the case, you may request a discharge review. Use an Application for Review of Discharge or Separation from the Armed Forces of the United States, Application for the Review of Discharge or Dismissal from the Armed Forces of the United States .

    You may obtain a copy of the application from your nearest VA office. Written applications should be submitted by the veteran, next of kin, or a legal representative. Application must be made within 15 years after discharge.

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    Where Can I Find Dates Of Military Service

    You could try contacting the National Archives. The online request form seems to require the dates of service, but the paper form just says provide as much information as possible it might be worth a shot. Note, though, that the original records may have been destroyed in 1973. Start with Ironmouths link.

    How Can I Find Out Where My Grandfather Served In Ww2

    Information on the campaigns and history of a military unit would be provided in the records of each unit. The service branch that your grandfather served in during WWII will determine where you may locate the specific unit records. We suggest that you request a copy of his Official Military Personnel File .

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    Is My Situation Eligible For Review By A Discharge Review Board

    Yes, if your discharge occurred within the past 15 years and did not result from a sentence given by a general court martial.

    If your discharge is more than 15 years old or results from a general court martial, you need to use a different process. In these situations, you must request review by the appropriate Board for Correction of Military Records. For more information about the Board for Correction of Military Records process.

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