JAG Attorney Upgrading Discharges
How to Upgrade An Other Than Honorable Discharge to An Honorable Discharge
The service member who is discharged with an OTH Discharge is not even considered a “veteran” under federal law for the purpose of eligibility for Veterans benefits like a VA home loan, educational stipends, permanent healthcare benefits, disability compensation for service connected injuries.
To receive these great Veteran benefits, the former service member with an OTH discharge must get his OTH discharge upgraded to an Honorable discharge to be considered a “Veteran” under federal law. It is estimated that there are close to a half-million former military service members who have to deal with an OTH discharge. The problem of upgrading to an honorable discharge has become easier with some new laws designed to help young men who suffer from PTSD or some other mental health problems.
The US Department of Defense issued some directives ordering the Naval Marine Corps Discharge Review Board and the Board for the Correction of Naval Records to take into account PTSD or any other mental health problem that substantially contributed to the incident of domestic violence, drug abuse, or other crime. The only qualification is that your PTSD or mental health problem is connected to your military service.
The requirement that PTSD or mental health condition is service connected is not a very hard standard. As a Military Discharge Attorney in San Diego I have gotten most of my clients with OTH discharges upgraded to Honorable by showing how their military jobs had major stresses that over the long haul led to PTSD or other mental health conditions.
Most judges are very receptive to the service connection argument. Young men and women, barely eighteen or nineteen, have a lot of growing up to do. It’s rare that such a young man or woman has learned how to balance the stressors of the military job, particularly one requiring bearing arms and armed conflict, with the normal experiences of living with another person and supporting a family.
Naval/Marine Corps Discharge Review Board
You are first required to apply for a discharge upgrade through the Naval/Marine Corps Discharge Review Board. Every branch of service has a discharge review board.
Once you demonstrate in your personnel and health records a problem on your military job caused by the stressors of the military, you will also produce some evidence of good character by showing good performance evaluations and other military awards. Good character letters from family, relatives, friends, work colleagues, and supervisors will often portray you in a very positive light.
I have many of my clients volunteer to help youths with organizations like the Boys and Girls club or some other cause benefiting veterans in crisis.
I also have a psychological evaluation conducted to show that my client has matured and outgrown the behavior problems he first manifested as a young 18-year-old boy coming from his home with no prior life experience.
The Navy/Marines have shown a great deal of understanding towards very young men with these aberrant courses of conduct. The Navy/Marine Corps, Discharge Review Board, know the lifelong stigma involved with OTH discharges, and most board members are gratified to help young men and women move on to the next stage of their adult lives.
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Other Than Honorable Discharge to Honorable Discharge
Have you been administratively separated with an Other Than Honorable discharge? Chances are, it happened in a blink of the eye.
First, you get arrested and prosecuted on a charge of domestic violence. Your command places a military protective order, and your wife or domestic partner either wants to get you kicked out of the Navy or Marine Corps or has buyer’s remorse and doesn’t want to prosecute you. A restraining order will be placed on you in Family Court or at your arraignment in criminal court. Your wife or partner can’t dismiss the case, even if she wants to. Under federal law, the restraining order will automatically prohibit you from owning, possessing, or using firearms. Under the Lautenberg Amendment, the military will separate you if you are not worldwide deployable. You must have the capability of using firearms just to stay on active duty in the military.
If you get convicted of domestic violence or any other criminal charge in civilian court, your military command will either send you to family advocacy for counseling because they want to retain you in the military or your command will process you for administrative separation from the Navy/Marines with an OTH discharge.
We live in San Diego County, which is the largest military city in the United States. In addition, San Diego County has approximately 300,000 veterans of the armed forces.
The vast majority of young men arrested for Domestic Violence are on active duty in the Navy, Marine Corps, or are veterans. Just to give you a picture of the numbers of active-duty members and veterans who can get into trouble which will result in their separation from the service with a “bad piece of paper,” an OTH discharge which will haunt every job application they fill out unless they can find a Military Discharge Attorney in San Diego who knows how to get their OTH discharge upgraded into an Honorable one.
If you get administratively separated because you have a “pattern of misconduct” (several Non-Judicial punishments or minor disciplinary infractions occurring in the same enlistment period), your command will try to separate you with an OTH discharge.
If you’re convicted of a civilian crime or any serious crime, that ground alone will serve as a basis to administratively separate you with an OTH discharge.
Whether you are administratively separated for a civilian conviction, the conviction of a serious offense, or the pattern of misconduct, the result is still the same…. A discharge from the Navy or Marines with an OTH Discharge. That leads to the question: how do I get rid of this OTH and get my honorable discharge?
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The Board for the Correction Of Naval Records (BCNR)
The other board you can appeal to upgrade your OTH discharge is BCNR. BCNR is structured similarly to the Navy/Marine Corps Discharge Review Board. It merely offers the service member another opportunity to gain an honorable discharge if the discharge review board decides to deny the petition.
The service member at this stage is urged to put in a lot of volunteer work, particularly for disabled veterans and youth programs.
My clients regularly attend PTSD veteran groups run by the local VA or another mental health program. My clients engage an individual therapist and work on their issues in a structured fashion.
An assessment tool to measure progress in the rehabilitation program is used to prove that my clients have grown beyond their earlier limitations and no longer pose any danger to others or the community.
Any drug and alcohol problems are addressed in an ongoing and dedicated involvement with the 12-step program of AA. I have my client’s sponsor appear and describe my client’s progress in the 12-Step program.
With these careful steps, I almost always help my clients upgrade their OTH discharges to Honorable discharges. Why delay in getting important and valuable veteran benefits to which you have been entitled. Don’t let an OTH haunt you for the rest of your life. Get rid of the yoke and start enjoying your benefits to live an everyday life.