Each of the military services has a discharge review board (DRB) with authority to change, correct or modify most discharges or dismissals. For many veterans, an upgrade in the discharge may mean the difference between receiving or losing veterans administration benefits. Unlike Boards of Correction of Military Records (BCMR’s), DRB’s are able to award only two specific remedies — a discharge upgrade or a change in the reason for discharge. You have fifteen years after the date of discharge to file your claim for an upgrade or a change in the reason for discharge.
Upgrading a Discharge Report: Propriety and Equity
When looking to upgrade a discharge report, the DRB will consider two types of arguments: propriety and equity. To prove that there was impropriety in your discharge, you must show that the Government committed an error in fact, law, procedure or discretion and that the mistake contributed in a substantial way to your unfavorable discharge. To succeed in a propriety argument, you will need a working knowledge of the U.S. Code, Department of Defense Directives, Department of Defense Instructions, and service regulations.
To successfully argue a case for equity, you will need to show that your discharge was inconsistent with the standards of discipline in the military service of which you were a member. Also, you can make a case in equity by showing that current policies or procedures are substantially more favorable than when you were discharged. An example of this argument may include new DOD Instructions that under certain circumstances require a service member to receive a medical examination to decide whether effects of post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury constitute matters in extenuation that relate to the basis for administrative separation. If you suffered from PTSD or TBI from deployment and received an unfavorable discharge, then you may have an argument worth presenting to the DRB. Another example would include discharges issued under the defunct “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.
How a Discharge Review Board Attorney Can Help
When arguing your case, it may help to probe the equity argument by showing that your discharge was inconsistent with other cases. Knowing how to use the Department of Defense Boards Electronic Reading Room could be an indispensable part of your case. When you are facing this board, an experienced, skilled, and dedicated attorney with knowledge of military law can help you gather personnel and treatment records from different sources, draft affidavits, develop character references, and apply regulations and other federal guidance to the facts of your case.
We welcome you to contact the nationwide veterans attorneys of Bosley & Bratch to discuss your situation and how we can help. Call (800) 953-6224 or fill out our online case evaluation form.