Legal Assistance with Discharge Upgrade, Records Correction
Our Veterans attorneys assist Veterans seeking Military Discharge Upgrade and Records Correction, including help obtaining service records, preparation, advocacy and finality.
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Military Discharge Upgrade
For veterans who have received a less than desirable characterization of military service, the repercussions of that discharge can be severe, to include -
- Ineligibility for veteran’s benefits before the Department of Veterans Affairs;
- loss of employment opportunities; and
- social stigma attached to the discharge.
The Veterans Law Section of Fink Rosner Ershow-Levenberg, in New Jersey, represents individuals who received an injustice in military service records or feel there is an error in their military personnel records. With experience in handling administrative and judicial discharges while in the military and resolving issues involving characterization of service determinations before the Department of Veterans Affairs, we are acutely aware of the negative impact that a mistake in military records can have years after the veteran’s end of military service.
Our military records lawyers assist with corrections of military records including -
- development (obtaining military service records, statements in support of request for correction/upgrade, medical evidence, etc..),
- preparation (submission of application package),
- advocacy (depending on the nature of the request, written legal brief and/or advocacy at a personal hearing), and
- finality (explanation of the positive effects of an upgraded discharge or change to military records).
Upgrading Less Than Honorable Discharges
Each branch of service has a Discharge Review Board (DRB) and a Board of Corrections of Military Records (BCMR).
If a discharge is less than fifteen-years-old and the veteran was discharged with a characterization of service other that a bad-conduct discharge or dishonorable discharge issued by a general court-martial, then the veteran must first apply to the Discharge Review Board. The application process begins with the submission of a DD 293 to the operative DRB. The veteran can request a “records review” and/or personal hearing before the DRB. The veteran has the burden of proof to demonstrate that the characterization of service was either improper (legality) or inequitable (fairness).
Reference: DODI 1332.28; 32 C.F.R. § 70.1-70.11
If the discharge is older than fifteen years or received a punitive discharge subject to a general court-martial convening authority, then the veteran should first apply to the operative service Board of Corrections of Military Records. While the BCMR has a three-year statute of limitation, that limitation can be --- and commonly is --- waived upon request. The application process begins with the submission of a DD Form 149. The BCMR normally reviews applications without a hearing, however, a personal hearing can be requested. The BCMRs have the power to "correct any military record” if “necessary to correct an error or remove an injustice."
Reference: 10 U.S.C. § 1552(a)(1)
Developing the Record Before the DRB/BCMR
Because issues related to unfairness, injustice, and/or illegality are broadly defined, developing the record prior to application is critical. Our attorneys strive to provide comprehensive and structured submissions to the operative Discharge Review Board or Board of Corrections of Military Records that include:
- Evidence of the improper nature of the discharge process;
- evidence of the unfair nature of the discharge;
- impact of the discharge on the veteran’s life;
- evidence of the veteran’s conduct and achievements after leaving military service;
- educational and occupational pursuits after service;
- financial status;
- character evidence both in service and post-discharge;
- impact statements from family members;
- civil and community achievements post-discharge;
- statements from the veteran;
- mitigating and extenuating information regarding the misconduct that contributed to the discharge.
Our attorneys assist Veterans seeking Military Discharge Upgrade and Records Correction, including help obtaining service records, preparation, advocacy and finality. Contact us today.