The Defense Department has issued guidance aimed at clarifying some of the confusion associated with procedures for upgrading discharges and military-service records. The new information addresses questions concerning issues related to sexual assault, sexual harassment, and mental-health issues other than post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“This guidance fills in the gaps and resolves any confusion that veterans or … review boards may have had, and it ensures a fair and equitable review of separations for all veterans,” the Pentagon announced Aug. 28.

The Pentagon is urging any veterans to come forward if they believe their discharges were unjust and their cases warrant a review, and has provided specific details to veterans’ service organizations.
Here is the link: https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/Clarifying-Guidance-to-Military-Discharge-Review-Boards.pdf.

Veterans whose discharges took place less than 15 years ago should complete DD Form 293 and send it to the DRB (Defense Resources Board) for their specific service. For discharges that took place more than 15 years ago, veterans should complete DD Form 149 and send it to their service’s BCM/NR (board for the correction of military/naval records). Addresses and more details are available online at http://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/Clarifying-Guidance-to-Military-Discharge-Review-Boards.pdf.

Veterans will need to answer four questions on the forms, as specified by the new guidance:

* Did the veteran have a condition or experience that may excuse or mitigate the discharge?
* Did that condition exist [or] experience occur during military service?
* Does that condition or experience actually excuse or mitigate the discharge?
* Does that condition or experience outweigh the discharge?

They also should be ready to provide any evidence to support their contention that their discharge or service records should be upgraded. This would include records from the DoD’s sexual-assault prevention and response program, forensic-examination evidence, statements from family members, friends and co-workers, and reports by law enforcement authorities, rape crisis centers, mental health counselors, or medical tests.

The guidelines offer assurance that “liberal consideration” will be given to those who are basing their requests on mental health-related issues.