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Restoration of Honor Act

Overview

In 2019, the Restoration of Honor Act was signed into law in New York State. The Restoration of Honor Act authorizes DVS to restore access to State Veterans Benefits to Veterans who have an Other-Than-Honorable Discharge (OTH) or a General Under Honorable Conditions Discharge due to certain conditions.

This determination does not change a Veteran’s official character of discharge on their discharge paperwork. This determination refers solely to a Veteran's character of discharge for the purposes of qualifying for specific New York State benefits for Veterans and their families.

Eligibility

Veterans who have an Other-Than-Honorable Discharge (OTH) or a General Under Honorable Conditions Discharge due to any of the following:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) 
  • Military Sexual Trauma (MST) 
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Gender Identity

Apply

DVS will assist Veterans in obtaining the Veteran’s complete and unredacted Official Military Personnel File, a review of which is necessary for DVS to render a decision on the Veteran’s application. DVS field offices can also assist the Veteran in obtaining a copy of their Department of Veterans Affairs Rating Decision Notice. 

Once DVS renders a decision, the Veteran will have the ability to file an appeal of the original decision. The appealed decision will be final.

Mandatory Documents:

  1. Restoration of State Veterans Benefits Application
  2. Complete Official Military Personnel File (Copy)
    1. (NYS DVS Field Office can assist in applying for your OMPF documents).
    2. Sending in a completed Standard Form 180 will not meet this requirement.
  3. Personal statement (signed) describing precisely why your assigned character of service was unjust and why an upgrade to a higher character of service is appropriate.
  4. If applicable, a VA Rating Decision Letter, from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, verifying that you have a service-connected rating for your disability.

Mandatory for those demonstrating their less-than-honorable discharge was caused by a mental health condition (i.e. PTSD, TBI, MST) during service:

  1. If symptoms of a disability incurred or aggravated during your military service (e.g., Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, Military Sexual Trauma) caused you to act in a way that led directly to your less-than-honorable discharge, provide the following:
    1. Evidence of the medical diagnosis of the disability (or disabilities) that led to these actions.
    2. Evidence your disability originated or worsened during your military service.
    3. Signed statement by the Veteran explaining how the diagnosed medical disability (or disabilities) led to the less-than-honorable discharge.
    4. If VA service connected, a Department of Veterans’ Affairs Rating Decision Letter identifying the condition and the reason for their decision to award service connection for your disability.  A VA letter only stating your disability rating percentage will not suffice.

Optional

  1. Supporting letters from individuals who can sincerely vouch for the Veteran’s good conduct and character in the military.
  2. Evidence of any medals, commendations, and decorations earned during your military service.
  3. If NYS DVS Appellate Unit did not receive enough information to adjudicate your application, we may request signed documents for the release of additional information.

Applications should be sent to the following address or email:

New York State Department of Veterans’ Services

ATTN: Appellate Unit

2 Empire State Plaza, 17th Fl Albany, NY 12223

Email: [email protected]

Legal questions regarding the application of benefits under the Restoration of Honor can be sent to: [email protected] or [email protected]

Application Package