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Myth: There is a six-month automatic discharge upgrade.
Truth: There is no such thing as an automatic discharge upgrade.
Many veterans are involuntarily separated from the military believing that their Other than Honorable (OTH) or General discharge will be automatically upgraded to Honorable discharge after six months. This is completely false.
Military discharge upgrades are never automatic and less than 5% of the applications for a discharge upgrade submitted to the Discharge Review Boards are granted.
Myth: All I have to do is mail in an application.
Truth: If all you do is submit an application, you are almost sure to be denied.
There is an application form that must be completed to request a discharge upgrade (DD Form 293 – Application for the Review of Discharge from the Armed Forces of the United States) but submitting just the application, without any supporting documentation, is in almost all cases insufficient to get a discharge upgrade.
Discharge Review Boards do not grant military discharge upgrades without a good reason for doing so. A Discharge Review Board will assume that the type of discharge issued by the military was appropriate and legal. It is up to you to either prove that your military discharge was the result of a “legal error” or that your discharge was an “injustice.” To prove there was a legal error, you have to show that the military violated its own regulations or violated your constitutional rights when you were discharged. To prove that your military discharge is unjust, you have to show that your discharge was unreasonably harsh for the basis for separation (such as drug abuse or other misconduct) or that your discharge is causing unnecessary hardships like legal or employment complications beyond what is fair.
Either of these arguments requires knowledge of your own record, in-depth knowledge of the regulations, and the ability to organize evidence and argue facts that actually matter. This is where the Jacksonville, Florida based attorneys at Korody Law come in. We can help access your military personnel and medical records and provide structure and organization for your case. We are also intimately familiar with military discharge regulations and how they have changed over time.
Myth: If I get a discharge upgrade, I can go back into the military.
Truth: Not necessarily. In fact, it is pretty rare.
Obtaining a discharge upgrade does not mean that a reenlistment code (RE) will change. RE codes establish a Veteran’s future eligibility to reenlist. A RE-1 code means that the Veteran can reenlist. RE-2 and RE-3 codes mean that there is a disqualifying condition but the member may reenlist if the condition is no longer present or a waiver is obtained. A RE-4 code means the member is not eligible to reenlist or join another branch of the military.
RE codes are normally only changed when the Discharge Review Board finds that the discharge itself was improper – in other words, the member should not have been discharged in the first place.
Myth: If I get a discharge upgrade, I will be eligible for all Veterans’ benefits.
Truth: It depends.
A discharge upgrade may make you eligible for benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that were not previously available. Some benefits, like the Montgomery or Post 9-11 G.I. Bill, require a minimum period of service and an Honorable discharge. Most other VA benefits only require a General discharge. A discharge upgrade will not change the time in service. If you have an Other than Honorable discharge (OTH), a discharge upgrade to a General discharge will get you a lot of benefits but not the G.I. Bill.
Myth: Everything you need for a military discharge upgrade is posted online.
Truth: There are some great resources online, but some are very misleading.
Search long enough, and you will be able to find someone on the internet claiming the Earth is flat, birds aren’t real, or that Elvis is alive and living in Canada. Google does not discriminate between fact and fiction. It does not know what is correct and what is almost correct. It is a fantastic tool for answering simple questions and gaining quick information, but it can just as easily take you down the wrong road. Military discharge upgrades are not quick or simple matters. The standards, forms, and procedures have changed a lot, even in the last few years. An old blog that perfectly matches your search terms might be correct about part of the process, but it might also be outdated or just plain wrong.
When it comes to questions of law, the best bet is ALWAYS to ask an attorney. Korody Law provides free case evaluations for new clients, and we can get you on the path to a discharge upgrade without having to completely place all your trust in an algorithm designed to generate money through advertising.
Myth: I can get a discharge upgrade without an attorney.
Truth: Actually… This is not a myth, but you are probably better off with an attorney.
An attorney is not required to apply for a military discharge upgrade. You have the right to apply and represent yourself, and thousands of people do so every year. However, the success rate at discharge review boards is small, and applicants that are not represented by an experienced attorney make up a large portion of denials. If you are relying solely on a blog post for tips on upgrading your military discharge, we urge you to carefully consider whether going it alone is truly in your best interest. Whether you desire to work with the team of attorneys at Korody Law in Jacksonville, Florida, a legal clinic, or another firm, an experienced attorney can be the difference between a successful discharge upgrade and months of wasted time.
Korody Law offers a free case evaluation. Call (904) 383-7261 to speak one of our military law attorneys about your discharge upgrade application.