Adverse Material is in My Record, and I Can’t Promote . . .

The services have procedures in place to ensure that adverse material does not get into the records of service members without first providing some form of due process.  Despite these regulations, too often errors are made, facts are distorted, and the information that goes into a permanent record does not accurately reflect the service of the member.

And failure of promotion, rejection of reenlistment packages, and other negative consequences flow.

Recourse is Available

As result of the reality that adverse and inaccurate information can find its way into the records of service members, Congress has provided the means for a service member to petition for removal of this information.  Through the Board of Correction of Naval Records (BCNR) or Board of Correction Military Records (BCMR), a factual proceeding is available to attack inaccurate and incorrect information and remove it; to remove the stigma of being passed over from promotion as a result of that information; to get a special selection board to reevaluate your corrected records against your peers, and be selected; and, under the right circumstances, to receive compensation for the pay you would have earned if you had been promoted with your contemporaries.

Information that can be removed under the proper circumstances includes adverse performance evaluations or fitness reports, adverse counseling, nonjudicial punishments or courts-martial findings that are erroneous.  Experience shows that, in the face of administrative errors or manifest injustice, the possible remedies are varied, and are intended to restore you and your career, as much as possible, to the position it would have been in without the error.

The Burden is on You

The procedures under these boards place the burden on you to present evidence of administrative error or factual inaccuracy that results in an injustice.  This means that you are responsible for investigating the error, collecting evidence, drafting the petition, and submitting this to the board for their evaluation.

Unfortunately, most active duty military lawyers have limited experience in this area, and may be precluded by service regulations or by the demands of their court-martial case loads from assisting a service member with this petition.  It is not unusual for an active military attorney to provide a package of written materials describing the promise, and a vague indication that they would be glad to review the package without providing substantive help.  As the process of the boards is both rule and evidence intensive, this approach is often inadequate.

During their military legal careers, Jeff Meeks and Bruce White cultivated practices of assisting military members in preparing these petitions.  Although there is no guarantee of success, they have assisted in the removal of adverse fitness reports, relief for cause, nonjudicial punishments, and marks of passed over promotion.  Meeks and White have successfully assisted both officers and staff non-commissioned officers in obtaining special selection boards that resulted in successful selection for promotion, back dating of their promotion to be in line with their peers, and receiving the back pay and allowances that they would have been due.  Military lawyers are the best choice for this type of legal work.

Requests for corrections have time limits.  The member must file within a given time period of discovering the error.  Do not hesitate in exercising your options.  Your future career is at stake.