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:
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:
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.