Administrative Discharge Boards

My Command Has Served me with Administrative Discharge Papers . . .

Service regulation permit the government to administratively separate service members whose performance, conduct, or physical and mental conditions indicate a lack of ability to continue to serve.  Some of the grounds include misconduct due to drug abuse, minor disciplinary infractions, commission of a serious civilian offense or a pattern of misconduct; presence of a pre-existing physical or mental condition that limits the ability to continue to serve; failure to meet weight or physical fitness standards; failure of an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program; hardship; and for “the good of the service.” 

These proceedings include procedures for characterization of service, allow the following potential outcomes:

  1. Honorable Characterization of service:  this would allow retain many rights administered by the Veteran’s Administration and the Department of Defense, and would normally not act as a bar for any future employment.  There may, however, be administrative reenlistment codes attached to the characterization that would preclude reentry into another branch of the Armed Forces;
  2. General Under Honorable Conditions:  this type of discharge is awarded where a service member’s is overall honorable, but certain negative aspects cause it to receive a lower categorization than a honorable discharge.  This discharge does act as a negative mark on a service record, and may be viewed as future employers as less valuable than job applicants with no military service, or with an honorable discharge from the service. 
  3. Under Other than Honorable Conditions (OTH):  this type of discharge deprives one of substantially all rights administered by the Veteran’s Administration and the Department of Defense.  It would have a negative impact on the ability of an individual to obtain future employment, and may act as a bar on obtaining jobs in federal, state and local government. 

These types of characterizations may have a serious impact on your future. 

Can I fight this?

Before the command can separate you with bad paper, or separate you after you have been in for a certain period of time, they are required to hold a “due process” hearing before a panel of officers and senior enlisted, and there prove by a preponderance of the evidence that:

  1. You have in fact done the disqualifying act or have the disqualifying condition; 
  2. That as a result of this evidence, you should be discharged from the service;
  3. That, as a result of the evidence both for and against you, your discharge should be characterized as either honorable, general under honorable conditions, or under other than honorable conditions; and, in some cases;
  4. Recommendations concerning suspension of the discharge. 

At this proceeding, you have the right to be present, and to be represented by a military lawyer, including your detailed military lawyer, a military lawyer you request, and a civilian military lawyer that you retain.  This is a substantial evidentiary hearing, with the right to challenge the government’s evidence, cross examine their witnesses, present your own witnesses and evidence, and testify on your own behalf.

In short, this is something you can fight. 

What happens after the board?

If the board finds that you did not commit the disqualifying act or have the disqualifying condition, then the case is normally closed.  If it finds that you should not be discharged, this normally closes the issue, although the government can forward to higher headquarters.  For a finding of discharge, both you and the government can go to the General Court-Martial Convening authority (GCMCA).  The GCMCA has the power to disapprove findings adverse to you, can upgrade the condition of your discharge, or could suspend the discharge based on your continued good conduct.  Conversely, if he disagrees with a favorable discharge characterization, the GCMCA can go to the Service Secretary seeking a less favorable characterization. 

At each stage of these processes, you have to write to make a written response to any government documents and to any findings.  Experience has shown that, on some occasions, the GCMCA has been willing to entertain personal interviews with you to assist them in making their determination. 

This is a defining moment in your military service.  Do not hesitate in acting.  Jeff Meeks and Bruce White offer decades of proven experience as military lawyers.  Call now for a free consultation.