While it is never easy to reverse a dishonorable discharge, persons or relatives of persons with this mark on their records have the option to appeal. This means standing up to the U.S. military and claiming that they made a mistake, which is intimidating to say the least, but it may be worth it to clear your name or that of a loved one. Following are a few things you can do to get the ball rolling.
Determine the Consequences
For some people, it isn’t necessary to appeal a dishonorable discharge because it won’t make a difference in their everyday lives. If they already have a job and a place to live, for example, there is no one to use their poor military record against them. However, if you’ve been denied employment or housing because of this stain on your record, you might want to appeal to simply improve the quality of your life.
Ask About the Court System
The process to appeal a dishonorable discharge varies depending on the branch of military with which you were recruited. In most cases, you’ll need to take the issue up with the military’s appellate court, which can have different names and serve different purposes. As I said, this is very confusing. Your best bet is to contact the recruiting department and ask where you should file your notice of appeal. They can help you locate the proper paperwork.
Evaluate Your Case
Regardless of whether or not you’ve hired an attorney to appeal a dishonorable discharge, you’ll need to conduct some personal research to help substantiate your claim. In most cases, you’ll need to present newly discovered evidence that supports an honorable discharge. For example, was there a gross miscarriage of justice that led to the court’s ruling? Has a new witness come forward to support your original explanation of events?
File Notice to Appeal
If you don’t file notice to appeal a dishonorable discharge within 15 years of the original ruling, you’ll have to go through the Board of Correction to get your case heard, which can add as much as a year to the time it takes to find yourself back in court. If possible, file your notice before this deadline and submit all requested paperwork so that there aren’t any hang-ups precluding you from going forward with your case.
Order Discharge Certificate
If you are successful when you appeal a dishonorable discharge, your military discharge certificate will be amended. Request copies of this certificate for all future employers, loan officers, or property management companies so that you can officially claim your honorable discharge from the military. You might also want to see if you are entitled to veteran’s benefits and re-enlistment to the military.