Administrative Discharge

Administrative Discharge is the military’s way of “firing” you. It means your branch of service either doesn’t have enough evidence of misconduct to punish you with an Art 15 or they are just tired of having you around and want you gone. Administrative Discharge Boards for enlisted personnel and Boards of Inquiry for Officer personnel are ways to fire personnel who are “board entitled.” The length of your service and the service characterization your commander recommends are two things that determine if you can have a discharge board. If your commander recommends you receive an Under Other Than Honorable Conditions (UOTHC) discharge you can present your case to a board of officers who will decide if you are separated and if so what characterization of service you will get. Even if you aren’t entitled to a discharge board you still have the opportunity to write up a response in the hope your commander will change their mind or give you a General or even Honorable discharge. Characterization of discharge can have huge impacts on your civilian employment opportunities and what military benefits you are entitled to. Commanders often bend the rules to fire military personnel who are unpopular or cause problems in the unit. For example, one of the basis for discharge in the Air Force is a “pattern of misconduct.” You can ask five different people to explain a pattern and get five different answers. I have represented many such clients while on active duty as a defense counsel and stopped frivolous actions while serving as a Staff Judge Advocate.

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