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Discharge Upgrade Possibility for Veterans

Discharge Upgrade Possibility for Veterans

Overview

If you feel that you wrongfully received a less-than-honorable discharge from the military, the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services (DVS) may be able to help.

DVS’s Veterans Benefits Advisors can prepare and file discharge upgrade applications free of charge to the Discharge Review Board or the Board for Corrections of Military Records for each branch of the military.

Additionally, New York is the first state in the nation to offer Veterans free access to a Discharge Upgrade Advisory Board.

Comprised of seven attorneys, this Advisory Board can provide a non-binding advisory opinion to Veterans with discharge upgrade appeals that a majority of the Board’s members deem to be meritorious.

This advisory opinion can be strong evidence for the Veteran to include in his or her appeal to the Discharge Review Board or the Board for Corrections.   

Veterans wishing to submit a package of evidence for the Discharge Upgrade Advisory Board to review should mail all relevant documents to:

New York State Discharge Upgrade Advisory Board

New York State Division of Veterans’ Services
2 Empire State Plaza, Floor 17
Albany, N.Y. 12223.

Veterans may also mail a CD containing electronic copies of their evidence to the same address. 

Discharge Upgrade Appeals Suggested Documents

The documents listed below are useful to include in an appeal packet for a discharge upgrade.

  1. Military Discharge Paperwork (DD214 or equivalent) and accompanying separation packet. 
  2. Any documents related to administrative separation proceedings.
  3. Service Treatment Records.
  4. Official Military Personnel File.
  5. Completed Department of Defense application (DD293 or DD149).
  6. List of each issue that you want the Board to review.
  7. Personal statement (preferably typed and notarized) describing precisely why your assigned character of service was unjust and why an upgrade to a higher character of service is necessary.
  8. Supporting letters from individuals who can sincerely vouch for your “good conduct and character,” including (where applicable) individuals who served alongside you in the military, family members, teachers, members of the clergy, close friends, employers, mental health providers, etc.
  9. Evidence of any medals, commendations, and decorations earned during your military service.
  10. Documentation of post-military conduct, including (if applicable) evidence of steady employment, community service, police reports with few or no citations, marriage license, birth certificates of children, credit reports with good scores, awards earned from place of employment or from civic organizations, etc.
  11. Documentation from any prior appeals to a Discharge Review Board or Board for Corrections, including any evidence previously submitted and any written decision(s) received from the Board.
  12. IF alcohol and/or substance abuse caused problems that led to your less-than-honorable discharge, provide evidence demonstrating your rehabilitation and your current sobriety.
  13. IF symptoms of a disability incurred or aggravated during your military service (e.g., Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, etc.) caused you to act in a way that led directly to your less-than-honorable discharge, provide:

        (a) Evidence of the medical diagnosis of the disability (or disabilities) that led to these actions;

        (b) Evidence of the symptoms of this disability;

        (c) Evidence of that your disability originated or worsened during your military service;

        (d) Evidence that events during your military service caused this disability to form or worsen  

** NOTE: Not all of this evidence needs to come from a medical professional. For example, if a person who knew you for a long period of time can write a letter describing how your personality and your actions changed during your military service, this can be valuable evidence to prove that you incurred or exacerbated your disability during your military service.

       (e) If applicable, an award letter from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs verifying that you have a service-connected rating for your disability rating for your disability     

Contact Assistance

If you need assistance, or just want to learn more about the benefits and services you may be eligible for, schedule an appointment with one of our Veterans Benefits Advisors, all Veterans themselves.

  • Call 1-888-838-7697 to speak to an advisor.
  • Schedule a phone or video consultation online.
  • Use our search to find a Services Office near you.