Discharge Upgrades – Dismissal Upgrades
(The information below applies only to the Army. The Navy and Air Force Discharge Review Boards have similar procedures. Our attorneys handle discharge upgrades for all branches of the military).
Who may apply for a discharge upgrade?
Former members of the Regular Army, the Army Reserve, and the Army National Guard or their attorney may submit an application (DD Form 293) to the Army Discharge Review Board (ADRB). If the former member is deceased or incompetent, the surviving spouse, next of kin, or legal representative may apply (application must include supporting documentation, i.e. certified copy of marriage license, death certificate, or power of attorney).
How do I apply for a discharge upgrade?
After you have all your documents ready, submit an original, completed and signed Application for Review of Discharge or Dismissal (DD Form 293). A qualified military law attorney can assist you with your discharge upgrade and guide you through the process.
How long do I have to apply for a discharge upgrade?
Requests for review must be made within 15 years of discharge/ dismissal. We suggest that you wait at least a short time (6 months –2 years) after discharge before applying to the ADRB in order to allow time for you to establish some references in the civilian community where you live.
What characterization of discharge can I request?
You can apply to have your discharge upgraded to honorable the first time you apply, regardless of the characterization of discharge you were awarded. However, we suggest you be realistic in your request. Soldiers discharged under Other Than Honorable conditions after 1 October 1982 while in entry-level status (less than 6 months service) may request an upgrade to an uncharacterized discharge. To do this, write in block 3c “Change to Entry Level Separation.”
What reasons justify an upgrade of my discharge?
There are two grounds for upgrading a discharge:
(a) Propriety – requesting change in discharge due to an error in the application of a regulation, statute, constitutional provision or other source of law.
(b) Equity – requesting change in discharge due to: (1) the policies and procedures under which you were discharged differing in material respects from those currently applicable on a service-wide basis, (2) the discharge being inconsistent with the standards of discipline in the military service of which you were a member at the time of issuance, (3) your exemplary service record and other evidence presented to the ADRB, or (4) your capability to serve (age, educational level and aptitude scores; family and personal problems; capricious actions; or discrimination).
Can I appear personally before the discharge review board?
Yes. There are three types of reviews. The first two involve personal appearance.
(1) Resident Panel Hearing – a review involving an appearance before the ADRB in Arlington, VA, by you and/or your counsel or representative. You must pay your own and you counsel’s travel expenses.
(2) Traveling Panel Hearing – a review involving an appearance before the ADRB at the regional location you request by you and/or your counsel or representative. The traveling panel holds reviews at each regional location approximately 1 time yearly. You must pay your own and you counsel’s travel expenses.
(3) Record – a review of the application, available service record, and documents submitted by you or on your behalf. There is no personal appearance by you and/or your counsel or representative.
Can I submit a brief or supporting cases, regulations, previous decisions, etc. with my application?
Yes, however, when a brief is submitted, we recommend that you list specific issues discussed in the brief separately at the beginning of your brief and that you separately identify each of these issues in the issues block of the DD Form 293. Also, for clarification purposes, we recommend that you cite on the DD Form 293 the page and paragraph of the brief where the issue is raised. Also, to save time in the review process, you should attach copies of cited cases, excerpts from regulations, and copies of previous decisions.
What if I want to apply for a change in my “Reason for Discharge”?
You must specifically note that as a reason for your application in Block 3c of the application and provide documents to support your issue(s). If you fail to do this, the ADRB will assume you are applying for an upgrade of the characterization of your discharge only.
Can I apply to the ADRB for a change in my RE Code?
No, RE code change questions should be directed to:
Alexandria, VA 22331
Can I apply to the ADRB for a discharge I received at court-martial?
Yes, the ADRB processes all applications for upgrade as long as they are filed within 15 years from the date of discharge. Applications for upgrade after 15 years from the date of discharge must be submitted to the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records (DD Form 149).
If my discharge is upgraded, will I receive my Montgomery GI Bill or get the money I paid into it back?
No, not necessarily. The ADRB does not make decisions on policies and procedures related to the Montgomery GI Bill. Your local Department of Veterans Affairs can assist you with such matters.
How long does it take to process an application?
Personal appearance (Arlington, VA) – approximately two to three months
Personal appearance (regional location) – approximately twelve months
Records reviews – approximately six months
Can I ask for a reconsideration of my application?
Yes, you may apply for reconsideration as often as you wish. However, the primary reason for reconsideration is due to newly discovered evidence. When applying for this reason, you must show new, substantial and relevant evidence that was not available at the time of any previous review. A record of all ADRB reviews and findings are maintained. Therefore, if a comparison shows that the evidence you submit would have had a probable effect, the request for reconsideration should be granted. Other reasons for reconsideration include, but are not limited to, representation by a counsel or representative on your behalf when your previous application did not involve such representation and retroactive changes in discharge policies that are announced after your earlier review. AR 15-180 outlines the complete eligibility criteria for reconsideration of a discharge review.
Sources of Information:
AR 15-180 (ftp://pubs.army.mil/pub/epubs/pdf/r15_180.pdf)
DoD Directive 1332.28 )
10 United States Code §1553