Classification of Military Discharges

Classification of Military Discharges

This is a discussion on Classification of Military Discharges within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Of late, I have seen several posts concerning military discharges. I have even seen some really STUPID posts saying folks were given a Dishonorable Discharge ...

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    Classification of Military Discharges

    Of late, I have seen several posts concerning military discharges. I have even seen some really STUPID posts saying folks were given a Dishonorable Discharge for traffic tickets or other minor offenses and now say they can't own firearms.

    All of that is a crock of feces. A Dishonorable Discharge is equivalent to a felony conviction, where a person must go through a General Courts Martial (it is called that because a General Officer must convene the court...you really think a General is going to convene that type of court over a traffic ticket??????)

    Bad Conduct Discharge is issued by either Special Court Martial or General Court Martial. A Dishonorable Discharge is issued by a General Court Martial only

    If discharged administratively the service member normally receives an Honorable or a General Discharge (under honorable conditions). If misconduct is involved the service member may receive a General Discharge (Other Than Honorable - OTH) service characterization.

    Below is an explanation of the system. Only a Dishonorable Discharge, given by a General Courts Martial means that you lose your right to own a firearm...again the same as a felony conviction and a dishonorable discharge is only given for the most serious of crimes!

    THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. GO SEE A LAWYER FOR LEGAL ADVICE. NEVER USE THE INTERNET FOR LEGAL ADVICE!!!

    Discharge or separation should not be confused with retirement; career U.S. military members who retire are not separated or discharged; rather, they enter the retired reserve and may be subject to recall to active duty.

    A discharge completely alleviates the veteran of any unfulfilled military service obligation, whereas a separation (which may be voluntary or involuntary) may leave an additional unfulfilled military service obligation (MSO) that they may carry out in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR).

    Below are some of the most common reasons for discharge:

    Expiration of Term of Service/End of Active Service (ETS/EAS)
    Reaching the maximum age limit
    High Year Tenure (reaching the maximum allowable time-in-grade, and not selected for promotion)
    Disability, Dependency, or Hardship
    Pregnancy/Parenthood
    Personality Disorder
    Condition not a disability
    Physical or Mental Conditions that interfere with military service resulting in being placed on the Temporary or Permanent Disability Retirement Lists
    Convenience of The Government/Secretarial Authority (voluntary redundancy due to funding cutbacks, for example)
    Unsuitability
    Misconduct – Minor Disciplinary Infractions
    Misconduct – Drug Abuse with and without administrative review board
    Misconduct – Commission of a serious offense
    Entry-Level Performance and Conduct
    Resignation (available to officers only)
    Reduction in Force (RIF)
    Uncharacterized if discharged within the first 180 days of service and no misconduct found in service member's record


    Types

    Administrative Discharge Types

    Entry level separation (ELS): uncharacterized

    Entry level separations, or uncharacterized discharge, are given to individuals who separate prior to completing 180 days of military service, or when discharge action was initiated prior to 180 days of service. This type of discharge does not attempt to characterize service as good or bad.

    .
    Honorable Discharge Types

    Honorable Discharge

    To receive an honorable discharge, a service member must have received a rating from good to excellent for his or her service. Service members who meet or exceed the required standards of duty performance and personal conduct, and who complete their tours of duty, normally receive honorable discharges. However, one need not complete a term of service to receive an honorable discharge, provided the reason for involuntary discharge is not due to misconduct. For instance, service members rendered physically or psychologically incapable of performing assigned duties normally have their service characterized as honorable, regardless of whether they incurred the condition or disability in the line of duty, provided they otherwise met or exceeded standards. Similarly, service members selected for involuntary discharge due to a Reduction in Force (RIF) typically receive an honorable discharge, assuming their conduct while on active duty met or exceeded standards.

    An honorable discharge can, on rare occasions, be granted to a former service member (whose service was characterized as less than honorable) as an act of clemency, should that person display exemplary post-service conduct and show evidence of outstanding post-service achievement in areas such as education and employment.[citation needed]

    United States Marines must have a proficiency and conduct rating of 3.0/4.0 or higher to receive an honorable discharge.[9]

    General Discharge

    General discharges are given to service members whose performance is satisfactory but is marked by a considerable departure in duty performance and conduct expected of military members. Reasons for such a characterization of service vary, from medical discharges to misconduct, and are utilized by the unit commander as a means to correct unacceptable behavior prior to initiating discharge action (unless the reason is drug abuse, in which case discharge is mandatory). A commander must disclose the reasons for the discharge action in writing to the service member, and must explain reasons for recommending the service be characterized as General (Under Honorable Conditions). The service member is normally required to sign a statement acknowledging receipt and understanding of the notification of pending discharge memorandum. The person is also advised of the right to seek counsel and present supporting statements.

    In addition, service members are required to sign documents acknowledging that "substantial prejudice in civilian life" may be encountered under a general discharge. A general discharge may preclude a veteran's participation in the GI Bill, service on veterans' commissions, and other programs for which an honorable discharge is required, but is eligible for VA disability and most other benefits. Illinois prohibits discrimination against a veteran from housing or employment on the basis of unfavorable discharge from military service per the Human Rights Act of 1970; this protection does not apply to dishonorably discharged veterans, as shown below.
    Other Than Honorable (OTH)

    An OTH is a form of administrative discharge. This type of discharge represents a departure from the conduct and performance expected of all military members. It can also be given as the result of certain civil hearings.

    Recipients of OTH discharges are barred from reenlisting into any component of the Armed Forces (including the reserves), and are normally barred from joining the Army National Guard or Air National Guard.

    Clemency Discharge

    Clemency Discharge established by Presidential Proclamation 4313

    By Presidential Proclamation 4313, President Ford created a procedure for those military personnel who resisted against the Vietnam War to receive a Presidential Pardon and have their punitive discharges changed to a Clemency Discharge. It also provided a path for those who left the country to return. If the military personnel fulfilled certain requirements of alternative service, they would also receive a Certificate of Completion from the Selective Service System.

    Punitive Discharge Types

    Bad Conduct (BCD)

    A Bad Conduct Discharge (BCD) can only be given by a court-martial (either Special or General) as punishment to an enlisted service-member. Bad conduct discharges are often preceded by a period of confinement in a military prison. The discharge itself is not executed until completion of both confinement and the appellate review process.

    Virtually all veterans' benefits are forfeited by a Bad Conduct Discharge; BCD recipients are not eligible for VA disability compensation in accordance with 38 CFR 3.12.

    Dishonorable Discharge

    A dishonorable discharge (DD) can only be handed down to an enlisted member by a general court-martial. Dishonorable discharges are handed down for what the military considers the most reprehensible conduct. This type of discharge may be rendered only by conviction at a general court-martial for serious offenses (e.g., desertion, sexual assault, murder, etc.) that call for dishonorable discharge as part of the sentence.

    With this characterization of service, all veterans' benefits are lost, regardless of any past honorable service, and this type of discharge is regarded as shameful in the military. In many states a dishonorable discharge is deemed the equivalent of a felony conviction, with attendant loss of civil rights. Additionally, US federal law prohibits ownership of firearms by those who have been dishonorably discharged per the Gun Control Act of 1968.


    Appeal procedure


    After a discharge, the service member (or his or her next-of-kin, if the service member is deceased) can appeal the type of discharge that was given. Depending on how long ago the discharge was, they need to file form DD-293 if less than 15 years and form DD-149 if over 15 years. These are very different forms and go to very different places. 10 U.S.C. 1552–1553 provide the law for this action. The service member (or his or her next of kin if the service member is deceased) must submit issues that claim an impropriety or inequity in discharge. Most of these requests are not approved, and then only if the service member can prove he or she was unfairly denied an honorable characterization.

    Appellate review of punitive discharges


    Any punitive discharge adjudged by a Court-Martial is automatically reviewed by a military appellate court for each respective branch. These are the Army Court of Criminal Appeals (ACCA), Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals (AFCCA), Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals (NMCCCA), and the Coast Guard Court of Criminal Appeals (CGCCA). These courts are staffed by appellate military judges and function as an intermediate appellate court and have the power to review de novo both any questions of legal error and the factual basis of the conviction. If either the government or the accused is dissatisfied with the results of this appeal, the conviction or the sentence can be appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF). This court has the power of discretionary review, in that it can in some cases deny a petition to grant a review. This court however must hear any death penalty cases or cases certified by the Judge Advocate General of each respective service for appellate review. Litigants before the CAAF can appeal to the United States Supreme Court. However, this right only applies to any case that the CAAF has reviewed. Therefore, in most military justices cases, the CAAF is the court of last resort since a denial of a petition of review by that court prevents higher appeal.

    Service members who are given a punitive discharge and have completed any adjudged confinement are normally placed on appellate leave pending final review of their cases by the appellate courts. This includes members who plead guilty at their courts-martial since all cases are automatically reviewed. The member is considered on active duty and is subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice while on appellate leave. While the member is entitled to full health care benefits and other privileges of being on active duty, the member receives no pay or allowances and is not required to perform any military duties.

    A service member who was adjudged a punitive discharge at a court martial and then dies before the appellate review process is complete is considered to have died on active duty under honorable conditions. His or her next-of-kin is then entitled to any rights and benefits to which any other service member's family would be entitled.

    Upgrade of administrative discharges and special court-martial BCDs

    Once discharge is finalized, General, Entry-Level/Uncharacterized, and Under Other Than Honorable Conditions (UOTHC or OTH) discharges may be appealed for upgrade through the Discharge Review Board of the respective service, however, the appeal must be filed within 15 years of the date of separation, and it must be shown that the characterization of service was the result of an error or injustice. Bad Conduct Discharges handed down by a Special Court-Martial may be upgraded only as an act of clemency. Discharge Review Boards may also consider appeals for a change to the Narrative Reason for Discharge (contained in Block 28 of the DD 214). The DRB does not consider a request for the change of a Reenlistment Eligibility (RE) or Separation Designator (SPD) Code by itself, however, in the case that a discharge is upgraded, the RE and SPD codes are often changed to correspond with the new characterization of service and/or narrative reason for discharge.

    If more than 15 years have passed since discharge, appeals must be directed to the Board For Correction of Military/Naval Records of the respective service. The BCM/NR hears a wide array of appeals and correction requests, and can be utilized by Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard, retired and discharged veterans alike. Normally, an appeal must be filed within 3 years of the occurrence of an error or injustice; however, exceptions are often made.


    Military discharge certificate

    In the United States of America, every service member who is discharged or released from active duty is issued a DD Form 214, a military discharge certificate. A reservist who is called up to active duty is given a DD 214 when he or she is deactivated and returned to the reserves. Those who are discharged before completing 8 years of active duty or reserve duty in an active drilling status are transferred to the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) for the remainder of their military service obligations (MSO). The Individual Ready Reserve does not drill or receive pay, however, a member in IRR status can be recalled to active duty during time of war or national emergency until the 8 years have expired. Most members separating with an honorable discharge after completing a single term of service (typically 3–6 years) are transferred to the IRR for the remainder of the 8-year MSO. Additionally, retirees are furnished with the DD 214, though a U.S. military retirement is not characterized as a discharge as retirees may be recalled to active duty, under certain circumstances, until they have achieved a total of 30 years of service.

    The DD 214 is a complete documentation of military service. It contains everything from total time in service, dates of entry and discharge, dates of rank, documentation of foreign service, ribbons, medals and badges awarded, professional military education completed, characterization of service, and reason for discharge (among other things). In responses to job applications, many employers request a copy of the DD 214. There are two DD 214 types: the edited (or "short") version, and the unedited (or "long") version. The edited version omits certain information, including the reason for discharge.

    Employers often request the unedited version, but the legality of this is debatable in certain situations. It can be denied, especially if the "long" version references facts that violate the right to privacy or could be used in a discriminatory fashion (such as non-relevant psychological, medical, or disability issues) explicitly cited as illegal by federal or state hiring laws (for example, the Illinois' Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination due to unfavorable discharge.) A service member may request the edited, unedited, or both versions on separation.

    Since the 1970s, an honorably discharged veteran receives a frameable certificate (DD 256). A similar one is issued to someone granted a general discharge (DD 257). For each certificate, one or more letters after the number indicate the branch of service that issued it. For example, a "256A" is awarded by the Army. Other certificates for long service, or to eligible spouses of veterans, may also be presented.

    The Freedom of Information Act has made (limited) records of military service available to the public, on request. However, information protected by the Privacy Act of 1974 can be released only with the veteran's consent.

    Re-enlistment Eligibility Code

    Another important aspect is the RE (Re-enlistment Eligibility) Code. This specifies under what conditions the member can reenlist in the armed forces. The definition of each RE Code may vary from Service to Service, as currently it is the responsibility of each branch of the Armed Forces to establish reenlistment eligibility criteria. As a general rule, however, an RE Code in the "1" series allows reenlistment into any component of the Armed Forces, and an RE Code in the "3" series usually lets the veteran reenlist with a waiver. RE Codes in the "2" series often place restrictions on reenlistment: this is especially true in the Air Force, which has a policy permanently barring airmen separated from the Air Force with an RE Code 2 from reenlisting in the Air Force (though reenlistment into other components of the Armed Forces may be possible with a waiver). An RE Code in the "4" series typically bars reenlistment into any component of the Armed Forces. (It is possible for a person with an RE Code of 4 to enlist in the Navy or Air Force if the SPD Code and the Narrative Reasoning are waivable.) A veteran issued an RE Code in the "4" series usually requires an Exception to Policy waiver to reenlist.
    21 years and 21 days, United States Marine Corps & NRA Life Member since 1972

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    VIP Member Array LimaCharlie's Avatar
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    If you have questions, call an attorney or a Judge Advocate General. Do not rely on internet advice.
    I carry a gun, because a Cop is too heavy.

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    Ex Member Array Longstreet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LimaCharlie View Post
    If you have questions, call an attorney or a Judge Advocate General. Do not rely on internet advice.
    It's also been my experience that the reason someone is dishonorably discharged, and the excuses they offer for why they were on the Internet, are often quite different. Don't rely on Internet advice and don't take verbatim everything you read on the Internet.
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    Longstreet said: Don't rely on Internet advice and don't take verbatim everything you read on the Internet.

    Yes, indeed. Including what I posted in the OP. I posted this guide so those who have no military experience can have a ready guide to help them sort out the BS from the facts when dealing with the "Stolen Valor" pieces of human feces.

    This might be worth a sticky in this section, if so deemed worthy, if not, it did help me vent.

    Semper Fi!
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    The one thing that you can do if you do get a dishonorable discharge from a court martial for something fairly minor, is to request clemency from the convening authority AFTER a change of command. That way it would not be the person that requested the courts martial and you might get a sympathetic ear. Explain the situation, admit YOUR fault and ask for what you want, "general discharge" as opposed to a Dishonorable Discharge. There is a fair change if it was not something really bad they will help out.

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    VIP Member Array LimaCharlie's Avatar
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    A few years ago, my wife and I went to the Oregon Army National Guard headquarters to get our updated retired ID cards. A young recruiter there was telling me they could really use my experience. My wife was having a panic attack because she thought we were being serious.
    I carry a gun, because a Cop is too heavy.

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    ^^^^^^^ Excellent ^^^^^^^^^

    Thank you Chorizo!
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    Quote Originally Posted by OutWestSystems View Post
    The one thing that you can do if you do get a dishonorable discharge from a court martial for something fairly minor, is to request clemency from the convening authority AFTER a change of command. That way it would not be the person that requested the courts martial and you might get a sympathetic ear. Explain the situation, admit YOUR fault and ask for what you want, "general discharge" as opposed to a Dishonorable Discharge. There is a fair change if it was not something really bad they will help out.
    Absolutely incorrect information on its face. You do not get Dishonorable Discharges from "fairly minor" offenses. You can get an General Discharge under Other than Honorable conditions for fairly minor offenses. Those can be upgraded to General Discharges to honorable conditions.

    Read the complete post for God's sake. What you have posted is a classic example of horrible advice from somebody who doesn't know squat about what they are talking about then post it on the internet.
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    Not to forget that some General Discharges can be for reasons that prevent firearms ownership also:
    Mental disorders / Personality - both require determination of a mental health professional
    Special or General Court Martial conviction for domestic violence = Lautenberg Amendment.

    Worked with a soldier (previously a NCO) who WAS railroaded to a Special CM. After it was over and penalty had been dished out we find out it is a Lautenberg Amendment violation. Stick a fork in him, he is done and his career over.
    Lautenberg made him non-promotable, which made him non-reenlistable and the reason his career ended and based on the Special CM conviction he got a General under Honorable Conditions almost 3 years after the conviction.
    At outprocessing finance moved to collect monies earned by his promotions following his CM demotion. Since a Lautenberg conviction makes you non-promotable his 2 promotions were erroneous.
    He was a good NCO in a crappy divorce who defended himself, in public, on base, with witnesses, from his freaked out wife. She got knocked down and restrained, but the punishment handed down, and pushed for by the Special Court Martial Convening Authority in no way matched the crime. According to lawyers we worked with, he can get some of the CM stuff changed, but can NEVER get the Lautenberg Amendment violation removed.
    Other UCMJ conviction for domestic violence do not fall under the Lautenberg Amendment, only SCMCA and GCMCA.


    Chorizo, BTW nice job on the Classification of Discharge write up.
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    VIP Member Array OutWestSystems's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chorizo View Post
    Absolutely incorrect information on its face. You do not get Dishonorable Discharges from "fairly minor" offenses. You can get an General Discharge under Other than Honorable conditions for fairly minor offenses. Those can be upgraded to General Discharges to honorable conditions.

    Read the complete post for God's sake. What you have posted is a classic example of horrible advice from somebody who doesn't know squat about what they are talking about then post it on the internet.
    Yes I understand you might think you are an expert on the subject, but you might not realize that some of us have served and have also dealt with this a time or two. Yes, you can be dishonorably discharged for fairly "minor" offenses. Yes, there are ways to try to correct those. You might want to review Appendix 12 of the MCM before you start jumping on other people.

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    Parrisk,
    Thank you for the kind words. You are correct, but I didn't include them as they are not directly related to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and are related to separate and individual legislation that control firearm ownership. Some States even have restrictions relating to lessor convictions that will prevent ownership.

    Again, the information is to provide a guide. You will find a lot of this also posted somewhere on Wiki....I posted most of this there years ago and it was subsumed and incorporated into a more comprehensive post on discharges of the world.

    I used the Navy JAG Manual for reference and the Manual for Courts Martial

    Courts | U.S. Navy JAG Corps

    http://www.jag.navy.mil/documents/mcm2008.pdf

    OutWest,
    I have, I did and contrary to your unwavering belief in yourself, in spite of the facts, you are patently wrong and I stand by my characterization of what you said.
    Last edited by Chorizo; February 20th, 2014 at 04:03 PM.
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    I've been involved with the U.S. Army in one way or the other since 1978. In today's military, it is impossible to be DisDis for a "minor" offense. It just doesn't happen anymore.
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    Seems I recall reading on my retirement that I was eligible for recall for ten years and after that went into a "non-recall" category. It doesn't matter to me as I'd never pass a physical.
    msgt/ret and Chorizo like this.
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    VIP Member Array LimaCharlie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldVet View Post
    Seems I recall reading on my retirement that I was eligible for recall for ten years and after that went into a "non-recall" category. It doesn't matter to me as I'd never pass a physical.
    As I remember (?) you are in the ready reserve until you complete thirty years of service and then you go into the retired reserve. I retired in 1985 with twenty-two years of service. The recruiter in 2006 was trying to get me back in.
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    Could be. I just remember something about ten years (I retired at just over 20).
    Retired USAF E-8. Lighten up and enjoy life because:
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