Discharge Upgrade Possibility for Veterans
Veterans who believe that their character of service or other discharge information is inaccurate have the legal right to appeal to the Department of Defense for a “discharge upgrade.” While all information on a Veteran’s discharge is legally presumed to be accurate, a Veteran can receive a “discharge upgrade” from either the Discharge Review Board or the Board for Corrections of Military Records for their branch of service based on grounds of propriety or equity.
In September 2014, Secretary of Defense Hagel issued a memorandum known as the “Hagel Memo” requiring “liberal consideration” for discharge upgrade appeals under certain circumstances. In February 2016, the Department of Defense issued a memo, clarifying that Veterans previously denied could reapply under the new rules. However, they must fulfill three requirements:
- First, that they had symptoms of PTSD at the time of misconduct that would have triggered the less-than-honorable discharge.
- Second, that the PTSD was at least as likely as not related to their service.
- Third, that the symptoms of PTSD manifested in such a way that it contributed to the less-than-honorable discharge.
Provided these requirements are met, Veterans can apply for a discharge upgrade and receive the “liberal consideration” promised by the Hagel Memo. This is of particular importance for Vietnam Era Veterans who may have had a less-than-honorable discharge before PTSD was a recognized medical diagnosis.
If you would like to learn more about the benefits and services you may be eligible for as a Veteran, servicemember, or as a family member of a Veteran or servicemember, please call the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs Help Line at 1.888.838.7697 (VETSNYS), where you may also schedule an appointment with one of our Veterans Benefits Advisors.