It can be very difficult for Veterans with other than honorable discharges to convince a military Discharge Review Board (“DRB”) to upgrade their discharges. The discharge upgrade process can be very confusing, and there is a shortage of representatives able to assist Veterans with upgrading military discharges. However, it is possible to convince a DRB to upgrade a veteran’s discharge by presenting the most compelling evidence in a rational manner.
Deciding Which Evidence to Submit
When deciding which evidence to submit to the Discharge Review Board, Veterans should focus on submitting evidence that portrays them in a favorable light. The goal is to give the individual members of the DRB a good impression of the veteran. Sincerity is critical, and veterans seeking a discharge upgrade should take steps to put themselves in position to make positive changes in their lives. This includes joining community organizations, volunteering, or anything else that helps others in the Veteran’s community.
Some of the most compelling evidence that can be submitted to the discharge review board is evidence that the military acted inappropriately when it discharged the Veteran. To determine what is the military acted appropriately, it is important to carefully review military personnel records to ensure all of the veteran’s procedural rights were protected during the discharge process. This includes determining whether the basis for discharge is correct. Additionally, this may include evidence that the veteran did not receive adequate counsel, or was otherwise unduly pressured throughout the discharge process. A Veterans Law attorney can help the Veteran submit Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests if the Veteran has lost their military personnel or medical records.
Although Veterans can provide this information to the discharge review board in the form of a statement or declaration, it is often helpful to present other evidence as well to persuade the discharge review board of the impropriety. A skilled advocate can help you obtain evidence and present your case in the most favorable light.
Other Persuasive Evidence to Submit to a Discharge Review Board
Additionally, the DRB often considers evidence demonstrating how the other than honorable discharge is unfair or has unfairly burdened the veteran’s life. This may include presenting evidence that shows the veteran is unable to obtain employment, or is unable to secure the education program of their choice. Although a personal statement from the veteran is often extremely useful in the circumstances, it may be helpful to present documents such as letters denying the Veteran from a particular job or educational program. Additionally, statistical evidence such as the number of jobs the veteran applied to without obtaining employment can help illustrate the burden of the other than honorable discharge on the Veteran’s life.
Also, it is often helpful to present evidence that shows the veteran’s outstanding achievements before and after the other than honorable discharge. It is important to build a record that shows the most positive aspects of the veteran’s military career, including relevant promotion history, military awards, participation in special events, performance reviews and developmental counseling statements, physical fitness test scorecards, and anything else that may help show the veteran’s most positive qualities.
When telling the story of the veteran’s post-military life, it is important to focus on positive aspects such as educational achievements, Community service, positive family life, engagement in community organizations other civic groups, or anything else that well help develop a positive image of the Veteran in the minds of the members of the discharge review board. Although that this evidence can be helpful coming from the veteran, it can often be more compelling if the information comes from third parties, such as employers, professors, doctors, members of the clergy, or anyone else with a good record and personal knowledge of the veteran’s character.
Submitting Legal Arguments to Discharge Review Board
When submitting a discharge upgrade application, it is usually helpful to submit a legal brief or argument that ties together your evidence and explains the law of the case to the members of the DRB. Additionally, it can often be helpful to make an in-person appearance before the DRB for a hearing. Veterans that may need a hearing or a brief should not attempt either activity without consulting with an experienced veterans’ advocate.
Veteran Esquire Legal Solutions, PLLC, represents veterans seeking discharge upgrades. If you are unsure about how to upgrade your discharge, or if you need assistance in preparing your discharge upgrade application, the firm is available to assist veterans nationwide. You can contact a veterans law attorney to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation today.