Veterans must have a discharge from military service under honorable conditions to be eligible for benefits from the Veterans Administration.
Many veterans have been discharged dishonorably, even with a Bad Conduct Discharge, unjustly or erroneously. Some veterans have been punished and discharged dishonorably due to undiagnosed psychiatric illness caused by experiences in the service. PTSD is a common psychiatric diagnosis that may not be diagnosed in service but can cause service members much difficulty. PTSD may be responsible for conduct leading to a discharge under other than honorable conditions. Victims of sexual assault, often with PTSD, have been and continue to be discharged dishonorably. Many victims do not report assault or suffer repercussions from commanders for doing so.
Personality disorders have been diagnosed by some military psychiatrists leading to discharges preventing a veteran from getting benefits as these are considered pervasive and usually existing prior to service. Veterans discharged because of an alleged personality disorder may be able to have their reason for discharge changed if they can substantiate that the personality disorder was improperly or erroneously diagnosed. This can be particularly important if there is another psychiatric diagnosis that is applicable and occurred during or as a result of service.
Thousands of veterans were discharged during the years that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was in force. Those that were discharged dishonorably may be eligible for an upgrade.
The Department of Defense is making a renewed effort to encourage veterans to apply for discharge upgrades.
Reasons for requesting an upgrade must be explained. The veteran will have to justify why their discharge was unjust or erroneous. Medical records may need to be submitted if relevant to the claim.
Veterans who were discharged within the last 15 years should complete DD Form 293. Those that were discharged more than 15 years ago should submit DD Form 149. Both forms should be submitted to the veteran’s respective service. The address to submit to is listed on the form.
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