Changing a not honorable discharge to receive benefits

While everyone wants to qualify for Veteran benefits, not having an honorable discharge can prevent this process from ever happening. The good news is, depending on the kind of release you are qualified as, there is a possibility that through the Discharge Review Board (DRB), you could file for a change. While it is difficult to get a change in discharge status, it is not impossible.


Discharge Review Board

Through the DRB, you are eligible to apply for a discharge upgrade. This process could qualify for benefits through changing your discharge but does not automatically qualify you since this process is outside the VA.

The board cannot, however, change a discharge qualified under undesirable discharges and court-martial charges for bad conduct. They are able to change the reason for release and ask for an upgrade of discharge. In order to qualify, one must determine which aspect they are changing

First, the Veteran must know what it is that you are trying to change. Anyone can file for a change, but unless the VA approves the change, then you will not receive Veteran’s benefits.

When filing, the Veteran first must know if there are asking for a change in an improper or inequitable discharge.

  1. A discharge was improper which means the reasoning behind discharge was an error.
  2. It is considered inequitable when the characterization of discharge is inconsistent with rules in place.

Additionally, a Veteran must show how the character of service changed. This will need to be backed up with adequate evidence that you provide. Finally, you must complete the application for review.


What to submit with your application

  1. Medical & military records connected
  2. Statement
  3. Buddy letter
  4. Employment history after serving
  5. Any other documents to show a good record

Including any mental or physical disability known at the time of discharge could help with your case as well.


Who can qualify

In order to be eligible for a hearing, it must be under 15 years from the time of discharge.

After your application has been reviewed, you can either request to attend the hearing or for a decision to be made on your behalf. If you choose to be present at the hearing, you must travel to Washington D.C., and none of your expenses will be reimbursed. You may also consider consulting a lawyer to advise you on which decision is best.

The benefit of showing up to the hearing is you would have the opportunity to testify on your behalf.

Afterward, it could take up to two months to find out the decision.

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