I served in the military but received a less than honorable discharge, and I feel that my character of discharge was unfair. What can I do?
You have a few options. You may want to consider finding someone to advocate on your behalf, depending on the complexity of your case. A lawyer or Veterans Service Organization (VSO) can collect and submit supporting documents for you.
Traditional Route: Discharge Upgrade
The strongest cases for discharge upgrade are those where you can show your discharge connects to any of these categories:
- Mental health conditions, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Sexual assault or harassment during military service (at VA, this is called military sexual trauma or MST)
- Sexual orientation (including under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy)
If none of the above apply to you, you are still entitled to apply for a Discharge Upgrade.
Another Option: Character of Discharge Review
Even with a less than honorable discharge, you may be able to access some VA benefits through the Character of Discharge review process.
When you apply for VA benefits, the VA will review your record to determine if your service was “honorable for VA purposes.” This review can take up to a year. You will need to provide the VA with documents supporting your case, the same way you would for a discharge upgrade.