Types of Military Discharges

Many civilians commonly assume that people “retire” from the military when they leave the service, which isn’t always the case. Receiving a discharge, or separation, is not the same thing as military retirement.  A military discharge is simply defined as a military member being released from their obligation to continue service in the armed forces. A discharge relieves the veteran from any future military service obligations where as a retired reserve individual may be called back to active duty.  A separation from the military can be voluntary or involuntary, and may leave additional unfulfilled military service obligation that will need to be carried out in the Individual Ready Reserve. It’s important to note that there are several types of military discharges, and these can have a profound impact on a veteran’s ability to receive veterans benefits, serve in government employment, reenlist in the military, and more.

Types of Military Discharges

Military discharge rating - types of military dischargesThe type of military discharge a veteran receives will be listed on his or her DD-214 Military Discharge Paperwork. The following are a list of various types of military discharges:

Honorable Discharge

If a military service member received a good or excellent rating for their service time, by exceeding standards for performance and personal conduct, they will be discharged from the military honorably. An honorable military discharge is a form of administrative discharge.

General Discharge

If a service member’s performance is satisfactory but the individual failed to meet all expectations of conduct for military members, the discharge is considered a general discharge.  To receive a general discharge from the military there has to be some form of nonjudicial punishment to correct unacceptable military behavior. A general military discharge is a form of administrative discharge.

Other Than Honorable Conditions Discharge

The most severe type of military administrative discharge is the Other Than Honorable Conditions.  Some examples of actions that could lead to an Other Than Honorable Discharge include security violations,  use of violence, conviction by a civilian court with a sentence including prison time, or being found guilty of adultery in a divorce hearing (this list is not a definitive list; these are only examples).  In most cases, veterans who receive an Other Than Honorable Discharge cannot re-enlist in the Armed Forces or reserves, except under very rare circumstances.  Veteran’s benefits are not usually available to those discharged through this type of discharge.

Bad Conduct Discharge (BCD)

The Bad Conduct Discharge is only passed on to enlisted military members and is given by a court-martial due to punishment for bad conduct.  A Bad Conduct discharge is often preceded by time in military prison.  Virtually all veteran’s benefits are forfeited if discharged due to Bad Conduct.

Dishonorable Discharge

If the military considers a service members actions to be reprehensible, the general court-martial can determine a dishonorable discharge is in order.  Murder and sexual assault are examples of situations which would result in a dishonorable discharge.  If someone is dishonorably discharged from the military they are not allowed to own firearms according to US federal law. Military members who receive a Dishonorable Discharge forfeit all military and veterans benefits and may have a difficult time finding work in the civilian sector.

Officer Discharge

Commissioned officers cannot receive bad conduct discharges or a dishonorable discharge, nor can they be reduced in rank by a court-martial. If an officer is discharged by a general court-martial, they receive a Dismissal notice which is the same as a dishonorable discharge.

Entry Level Separation (ELS)

If an individual leaves the military before completing at least 180 days of service, they receive an entry level separation status.  This type of military discharge can happen for a variety of reasons (medical, administrative, etc.) and is neither good or bad, though in many cases, service of less than 180 may prevent some people from being classified as a veteran for state and federal military benefits.

How Military Discharge Information Should Be Used for Job Interviews

This information should be used as a reference only – especially if you are an employer researching a job applicant. Due to legal issues surrounding Equal Employment Opportunities and related laws, one should be careful in the interview process. It is generally illegal to ask which type of discharge a military veteran received, unless it is to ask whether or not an applicant received an Honorable or General Discharge if you are ascertaining whether or not the applicant qualifies for veteran’s preference. Read more about illegal job interview questions.

However, even if the veteran did not receive one of these types of discharges, it doesn’t necessarily mean they were discharged for bad conduct, as the reason could have been a medical discharge or other administrative discharge. It is usually best to keep the line of questioning centered around the job applicant’s experience and qualifications. For example, you can ask them if they have military service,the period of their service, rank at time of separation, type of training, leadership, and work experience, qualifications and certifications, and anything else relevant to the specific position for which they are applying. See your Human Resources office for more information.

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Date published: January 19, 2011. Last updated: August 14, 2012.

Article by

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of this site. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years in the USAF and also writes about money management, small business, and career topics at Cash Money Life. You can also see his profile on Google


  1. Hello! Ryan I have a question for you. I just signed up for the national guard last month but I do not want to go to basic training. I just feel like the army is not for me. Is it going to be a dishonorable discharge or ELS? Will this disqualify me for police officer job and federal government job? You answer will be helpful.

  2. im pretty sure you have to be sworn in before you are commited… according to my marine husband.

  3. Your initial oath at the processing station doesn’t count. If do not go to basic training, you are not enlisted. If you really don’t want to go, don’t, they might call you and mail some forms but there are no negative consequences. 12 years active duty E-7.

  4. Gary W. Williams says:

    Is there such a thing as to receive a “less than Honorable Discharge” and then be changed to an “Honorable Discharge” six months later? (Navy branch)

    • Gary, It is possible to have a discharge upgraded, but it is not an automatic process. It is something that must go through an appeals process, and you must prove why the previous discharge rating should be upgraded. From what I understand it is a time-intensive process to have a discharge upgraded.

  5. Damon Romar says:

    Hi, Ryan. I enlisted in the army in January of 1997 and I went AWOL in November or December of 1998. I turned myself in to Fort Sam Houston the following spring. I never sought to look into the availability of military benefits afterwards because I thought the severity of my operation automatically canceled them. Lately, though I’ve found that it is based on the type of discharge I received. Now I don’t remember what discharge I actually did get. I seem to remember that it was “general under honorable conditions”, but it seems more likely that it was a”bad conduct discharge.” I’d like you to give me your opinion on the likelihood that I escaped with anything other than a bad conduct discharge and is there any possibility that I may be entitled to any benefits. Thank you, in advance, for your time and consideration.

    • Damon,

      Thank you for contacting me. You will need to get a copy of your DD Form 214 (official separation paperwork) to learn the exact classification of your discharge. This will help you determine if you are eligible for any military or veterans benefits. You can learn more here: How to get a New DD 214, Military Records Requests.

      Unfortunately, I can’t give you a specific list of your benefits eligibility because it is always a case by case basis. My recommendation is to contact the VA after you determine your type of discharge, and they can help you walk through any possible benefits.

  6. My son has been in the army since June of 2013 and he has gotten in trouble a few times for being late. They took him down in rank after he just got ranked up and had extra duties 2xs now hes been in the jail for violation of atraffic ticket do you think they will let him go he is in Texas el parson what are his. Chances of making it his first 4yrs

  7. Sylvester Lang says:

    Ryan thank you can’t be said enough for your comment “retirement and discharge/separation are not the same thing”

    The Ex-military officials in the Department of Veteran Affairs have caused their civilian subordinates and peer to believe that “they” as officials in the DVA can determine, Title 10 USC’s military retirement for the length of service (20yrs) when their is no lost time in block 29 of the DD-214.

    The above has lead to these officials falsely making/misrepresenting the certificates of discharge (DD-214) issued by the military service department (Title 18 USC 498).

    The Courts of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has warned VA to stop treating military certified on the DD-214 by military service department as a decision that can be made by the VA on appeal. The latter can not be appealed Brown vs Sori, military service is the prerequisite to VA entitlements, when the military service department certifies military service, it is final and binding upon the Department of Veteran Affairs

  8. My husband was in the Marines back in the late 80’s. He completed basic training. He was let in with flat feet. While he was enlisted, he was operated on and had to have his body “flushed” three times because his appendix burst. When he was sent home to recover, he was then discharged due to “flat feet”. Can you tell me why he’s ineligible for any benefits? Seven to eight years ago he became diabetic (insulin dependent) without warning. His pancreas literally just stopped working. The doctors cannot determine the reasons for this. How would he be able to apply for health benefits?

    • Thanks for contacting me, Bianca. You will need to contact the VA regarding benefits eligibility. They are the agency that determines who is eligible for benefits.

      Regarding medical issues, it’s essential to have a copy of his medical records while he was in the service. Then he would need to get an examination to determine if his medical conditions were caused by issues he had while he was serving in the military.

      Additionally, you might want to see if your husband was stationed at Camp Lejeune in the early through mid 1980s. There were water contamination problems and he may be eligible for medical care coverage if he was exposed to the bad water at Camp Lejeune and he contracted a related health issue. Here is a resource for more information.

  9. I was an Army Warrant Officer, and my DD214 Says both Other Than Honorable and Dismissed. Is this possible and what does that really mean to me. Do I tell anyone officially inquiring that I have a dismissal or an OTH. Do I have both administrative discharge and a punitive. Does it default to one or the other. Could it be that the Army never changed my Officer Status from Reserve to Active after I was promoted to CW2, Which I was told prior to my departure from service.

  10. Jack Fields says:

    Dear Alexander,

    Out of curiosity what is certified in block 29’s lost time during this period of service (which is pursuant to 10 USC 972)?

    According to United States v. Howard, 20 M.J. (C.M.A. 1985) and United States v. King, 42 M.J. (CAAF 1995), “personam jurisdiction over servicemembers is lost upon granting the discharge certificate, absent same saving circumstance or statutory authorization.”

    Block 23 Type of Separation “Dismissed” and block 24 Character of Service “UNDER OTHER THAN HONORABLE CONDITIONS,” appears as if you were disabled in office, during a coup d’état, in the sudden disposition of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

    Pursuant to President’s Rule RCM 1003(b)(8), Manual for Court-Martial, in the matter of punitive separations “a court-martial may not adjudge an administrative separation from the service.”(Honorable, General, OTH), which means in turn, no convening authority may grant a punitive separation (Dismissal, Dishonorable, Bad Conduct)

    In accordance with Title 10 USC 1161, “officers who are either dismissed or dropped from the rolls there is no character of service. In block 24 for character of service, X’s “MUST” be entered and must be appropriate and consistent with reason and the authority of separation (block 25).”

    Civilians and enlisted personnel may not have enough understanding or training to know that enlisted and officer separation is not the same thing.

    What do you say when confronted is your call. The DD-214 states “Special Additional Information (For use by authorized agencies only) applicable to blocks 23-30.

  11. Jack Fields says:

    The term “veteran” means a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.

    “Under conditions other than dishonorable” is not a character of service under Title 10 USC. Under conditions other than dishonorable is a general term that allows an agency to determine lost time during this period of service certified in block 29 of the DD-214, pursuant to 10 USC 972 or the requirement for determination of active duty service not meeting the requisite months or some other non-saving law or rule under under an agency granting veteran benefits.

  12. Discharged in 1970 Honerable “convenience of the Gov’t”
    This was done in Lu of a hardship discharge requested by myself.
    Just obtained my military records. There is a statement within that I agreed to The terms of a convenience of the government discharge. I am trying to find out what a convenience of the government discharge actually means. Have I lost any rights or benefits with this type of discharge?

    • Bill, So far as I know, this should be the equivalent to an administrative discharge. This shouldn’t have a negative impact on your benefits, provided you would otherwise qualify. For example, some benefits eligibility requirements include serving a minimum amount of time for eligibility. The best recommendation I have is to contact the VA or another benefits agency to inquire about which benefits you may be eligible for.

  13. Question regarding discharge/dismissal….
    In all cases, the service member is given their DD-214, correct?
    Is it also the case that the service member is returned to their “home base”? They wouldn’t just be kicked out and not have a way home, right? IE: left in Germany or Italy, etc….


    • Lauri, Yes, every military member should be given a DD Form 214 when they separate from the military. Regarding being sent back to the US from overseas, I don’t have a good answer for you. The military normally sends people to their home of record after they separate from the military, but I don’t know the full details for each specific situation.

  14. FYI- I have an ELS after a stint in the brig, and refusal to return to service during basic training.

    I still get benefits.

    Go apply!

  15. ray e lee jr says:

    I recently received my deceased fathers discharge papers from the Navy. It states he was dishonorably discharged with the letters (GCM) behind. Can you tell me what this means.

    • Hello Ray, GCM stands for General Court Martial. This means he was tried and found guilty in a military court. His punishment included a Dishonorable Discharge.

  16. what kind of discharge will a person get if they found out that they were allergic to nuts in basic training? My daughter is in her 4th week and found out via a blood test or skin test

    • Marc, Thanks for contacting me. I’m sure this must have been a disappointment for your daughter. It would most likely be an administrative discharge, which is neither good nor bad.

  17. What is the chance or her getting a waver to stay in?

    • Hi Marc, I’ve been doing a little reading on peanut allergies, and it looks like the odds of getting a waiver are not good. The issue is the military often uses peanut oil for cooking. There would be times your daughter wouldn’t know how the food was prepared and what the ingredients were. This could put her at risk of a severe allergic reaction, or possible death, depending on the severity of the allergy. There could also be times when your daughter would be in the field and away from medical facilities and possible life-saving medication. This puts her and her unit at risk, should something happen.

      My recommendation is for her to ask to be retested to determine the severity of the allergy. She can also contact her recruiter or the medical personnel at her basic training location to inquire about the possibility of waivers. It’s no guarantee she can get a waiver, but it is at least worth a try.

      I wish her the best of luck.

  18. Hi Ryan I got a els well what I thought was a els I quit the army in basic I did the right procedure to get out I went to home return unit and everything but a employer recently looked at my recorded and it says oth but my folder said els and it was uncharctorized so I was wondering what do I have and I want to go to law enforcement so bad it was a life long dream will I be able to. If you could email me and help anyothers who could will greatly be apprechated

    • Hi Cory, Your DD Form 214 should state the reason for your separation, including your discharge classification. There should also be a reenlistment code on your DD Form 214, which is an official classification stating whether or not you are eligible to reenlist. It is possible to have an Entry Level Separation with a reenlistment code that states you are ineligible to reenlist (for whatever reason). It is possible the employer was able to decipher your reenlistment code and read between the lines. My recommendation is to speak with the employer to determine what their requirements are, where you stand, and what you can do, if anything, to rectify the situation. Best of luck.

  19. I have been in the army reserves since 2012. My unit makes it difficult for me to switch and go active. I have tried going 18X but i dont clear security clearance. Cant go active either without airborne and my unit makes it really difficult to go to any schools its nearly impossible its a dead end so desperate I was wondering if i stop attending drill and get discharged. Is that considered a dishonorable discharge? If not how will that affect me enlistment again?

  20. David Espinoza says:

    I’m a Vietnam disabled vet, I receive my health care through the VA hospital.
    The church I attend honor vets on Memorial Day and on Veterans Day, but there is a church goer who who was in the USAF. He committed a crime of theft and was given a dishonorable discharge, plus he was deported back to San Salvador.
    Is he a felon and is he a veteran to be taking honors from our church?

  21. Ryan,
    My daughter just found out today she will be sent home from Basic Training….after 7 weeks….for not scoring well enough on the sit up portion of her PT test. What are her options from this point? She has been hearing she must wait 6 months before trying to go back in or before being able to look at joining another service. Is that just barracks lawyers talking?

    Thank you for your time!

    • Hello Cathy, Thank you for contacting me. At this point, she will be separated from the military and probably given an administrative discharge. This is neither good nor bad in terms of future employment prospects or legal ramifications.

      Regarding the 6 month waiting period – I don’t know the exact regulation, but that sounds about right. However, since I don’t know the regs, I recommend she speak with her recruiter about her options. Her recruiter will be able to go over her options and help her decide the best course of action. The good news is that 6 months should be plenty of time to work on strength and conditioning if she decides to continue with her goal of joining the military. I wish her the best!

  22. I served 2 years than went awol.,I had been in trouble prior to enlisting so to get out off a youth camp I enlisted. So after getting in trouble and having all kinds of trouble with my marriage I kept going Awol so when it finally came to make a decision what to do. They asked me if I knew I was released from the boys home before I enlisted I said no. They said then that I could get out on a fraudulent discharge. It has been over 30 years since this all has happen. Would I have gotten something showing I was in. .I know I was wrong but I feel they could have did a little more to help with my problem to. It has been a long time but as I get older that always haunts me. If I could make it all up I would sign up know. All I want is a something to say I was a in the Army. They said it could hurt me or it may not hurt you.

  23. Hello, I enlisted in the OHIO NG for a little over a year now and I can honeslty say that the military isn’t for me and like to know how to get out with a honorable discharge? I also received a scholarship to complete my BA degree do I have to pay that back if I get discharged? Help.

    • Sarah,

      Thank you for contacting us. To be honest, I don’t know what happens if you stop going to drill. You would be best off asking your personnel or legal department. You could also contact the base legal department at a different location if you are concerned about anyone finding out what is on your mind. You can also look into programs to see if there is a way you can get out of your contract early without getting into trouble.

      Regarding paying back your scholarship, again, this is something you will need to ask your personnel or finance department, or read the terms of the contract you signed if you still have a copy. It should clearly spell out the terms of your scholarship and what recourse, if any, the government will receive if you fail to complete your service obligation.

  24. Bobby Russell says:

    I was going through the MEB process for a condition with my hear. I recently attended an administrative separation board and was recommended for separation and an other than honorable discharge. I have just under 10 years of active duty service and 3 reenlistments. I was recommended for separation because I was on the receiving end of a temporary restraining order. I was never arrested or charged with domestic violence but still the board voted that I must go. My question is, is there any way that I can fix my situation and receive the benefits that I’ve earned? My last reenlistment was less than a year ago.

    • Bobby, Thank you for contacting me. My advice is to get a lawyer who can advise you on your options and the separation process. Start by contacting your base legal office and see if they can offer you assistance. If that doesn’t work, then you should contact a lawyer that specializes in military law. It is possible to get a discharge rating upgraded later on. However, it’s always best to get it taken care of the right way before you separate. It will reduce the amount of paperwork you have to deal with and allow you to have a higher discharge rating which can be helpful when looking for employment. Best of luck, and thanks for your service!

  25. Went into the USN as a Nuke ET back in the early 90’s. Of course they sent me up the river into bootcamp without getting a waiver. Short story, spent Oct 93 – Jun 94 in boot camp and apprentice training fighting the review board to stay in the Navy. Separated out in 94. My dd214 says “Discharged” for the the type of separation and “Uncharacterized” for the character of service.

    Is this bad? Is it Honorable, General, OTH, Dishonorable character of service?

  26. I was a USAF officer who was brought up on charges of fraternization in 1987. As opposed to going through a Court Martial I resigned my commission. The type of discharge was OTHC. Both myself and my enlisted girlfriend (we had plans to be married) were single and consensual. The Area Defense Council(ADC) handling my case told me that this wasn’t as bad as a Bad Conduct or Dishonorable discharge. I come to find out this is the worst kind of discharge I could have received as an officer. It is now past the time to appeal the discharge and I am told all I can do is appeal to the military records correction group. This is only if the information is incorrect not that I was misled or received an unfair discharge type. Since then I have been married (to a different woman) for 25 years and have two daughters. Can you tell me where to go for help? After serving 9 years I do not want this to be my legacy to my wife and daughters.

  27. in 1980,I received a General Discharge under honorable conditions from the
    Marine Corps. Am I entitled to all benefits,or are they diminished?

  28. Jorge Martinez says:

    Good morning Ryan, I recently was found guilty of couple articles (Possesion of banned substance and False Statement) at NJP. I am being processed for Administrative Separation with a General discharge. I was wondering will those specific charges I was found guilty of be listed on my DD 214? Also, just how crippling in the civilian job market is a General Discharge? Thank you very much for your help.


  29. Hey there, I was in usmc at boot for only 1 month. I have a ELS and a re 3f… is this able to be upgraded so I can try to get back in? Also, I have a uncharacterized separation.

  30. My uncle serve 24 yrs in PA, he has been discharged from the service since 2000. He did not receive any benefits because he has no discharge order document to show. What can we do? Hope you can help us.

    • Brooke,

      Every military member should receive some form of discharge paperwork or documentation when the leave the military. If he was serving on active duty, he would have received a DD Form 214. If he served in the Guard or Reserves, he may have been issued some other form of paperwork. The best way to get this information is to contact the National Archives, which is where all military records are stored.

      Here is some more information we have regarding replacement DD Form 214s, and Military Records:

      How to get a New DD 214.
      Military Records Requests.

      I hope this is helpful, and best of luck!

  31. I’ve been in the army reserves for about a year now. I failed one PT test, last drill I didn’t take one because I was hurt from my civilian job but I didn’t have a doctors note, so I was taken down in rank. I have drill coming up this weekend and don’t plan on taking the PT test and doctors said they weren’t authorized to give me a note or profile, military doctors have to do so. What kind of discharge will I be looking to get for not talking a PT test more than once?

    • Terris, You will need to speak with your unit representative to determine what type of discharge you may receive. It will typically not be an Honorable Discharge if you are separated for failing to meet standards. (It will likely be a General Discharge or Other than Honorable Conditions, but your unit Commander will have final say).

      Regarding a doctor’s note: It’s true that a civilian doctor cannot write a military fitness profile, but they can recommend you abstain from certain physical activities such as running, pushups, etc. At that point, you should contact your military doctor and request an appointment for an examination and a profile if your doctor agrees with the civilian doctor. In other words, this is an entirely avoidable situation.

      I encourage you to try and get an appointment with your civilian and/or military doctor before your PT test this weekend. Otherwise you are all but guaranteeing yourself a difficult situation. Keep in mind that your discharge will stay on your file forever, making it more difficult to get certain civilian jobs, may make you ineligible for certain veterans benefits, and possibly prevent you from ever serving in the military again. I’m not saying it will ruin your life, but it certainly won’t make things easier. Best of luck.

  32. Hi, I was with the airguard for almost a year then… a month prior to bootcamp, i had a problem with my security clearance…..i did disclose my hisotry of chapter 7 bankruptcy but according from them I did not….. to cut the story short …. I got discharged from the airguard…..after 2 yrs… I still want to go back and be a part of the service and serve. I am a graduating nurse with a bachelors degree in nursing…… will i still be able to join the service…. I will wait for your response. Thank you.

  33. I commissioned as an officer in PA National Guard in oct 2013. I was to attend BOLC in Sept 2014 and had gotten my XO permission to not attend AT. Due to circumstances I had to push BOLC back until
    Feb 2015. I recently had a conversation with some people at HS and it appears they are annoyed with lack of presence at AT. I have email into the MAJ at the Battalion and awaiting his response to meet face to face. Can anyone shedight into the effect this will have on my military career. Can this lead to a discharge?

  34. Hello, I was in navy bt back in winter of 96 was kick out with re 4 els for asthma. I never had a day of asthma as a kid and ran track all through school. I was ill and was sent to medical doctor give me breathing treatment side o this helped you so you have asthma. As soon as I got out I seen doctors and had pulmonary testing done. Showed no asthma I have had it done a few times sense. I tried to go in ROTC for Air Force but during first week of school I was let of because of my re code. I was told I had to. Get it changed. I give up went of to college and teaching. However over the years I have been told that because of the navy discharging me for something I did not have I I wanted to make a life out of it, I should be able to fight for va benefits. Is this true and how do I do this.

  35. Dodie Bradley says:

    My father was given an honorable discharge April 30, 1945. He also had a “CERTIFICATE OF DISABILITY FOR DISCHARGE AR 615 361 & LST IND AAF REGIONAL HOSPITAL SAACC”. Could you tell me what his medical condition was?

  36. I’m in AIT and on my 9th week here and I realized that the Army is not for me. Do you know what discharge I would get for failing out? I have one negative counseling and it was for being late. Will the discharge effect my career outside the military?

  37. Hello Ryan,
    I have a relative who recently signed up for the national guard. He was sworn in and is scheduled to go away for basic training in a few weeks. However, while going to the required one weekend a month training until the actually basic training starts he became very ill after having an allergic reaction. He went to a allergist who commenced numerous testing and discovered he has severe case of allergies to every kind of tree, plant, pollen, peanuts, cats, dogs, carpet etc. The doctor said this was by far the worst case they had ever seen. He has documentation as well as pictures of his arms of how his body reacted when being exposed to those elements. The exposure to these elements cause his airways to be some restricted and caused him to have problem breathing. He diagnosed serveral medications and a Epi pen. He wants to go to basic training but is afraid that his condition would prevent him. He contacted his recruiter and even went to the last training and the sergeants where trying to tell him he is scared and nothing is wrong even when they saw his nose start bleeding. What should he do? What steps need to be taken?

  38. Hello Ryan, I’m a military army wife, my husband has been in for almost threw years and our experience has been mostly bad. My husband turned to smoking whenever he felt like he couldn’t deal with his army work place. He end up failing a drug test but he was enrolled in CAC I think that’s what it’s called a class for ppl who has a problem with drugs and alcohol. Well they were giving him a honorable discharge. Then they turned around and said they think he lied about not smoking when he first joined. Well his recruiter told him not to say anything about him smoking so he didn’t. And I mean everybody know recruiter will tell you anything to get you to join well at least in my city they do. So he told them about how his recruiter said to not say anything. Everything is under investigation now. Is there a way they can throw this out and give my husband a honorable or general? Is it possible? We are so stressed about this because it’s taking so long. We are sitting around playing the wait game while we could be moving on with our life. It seems like no one cares about you in the military. He’s also a excellent worker! :(

    • Kim, your husband can’t use the excuse, “my recruiter told me to lie.” When recruits go through MEPS (the military recruit processing station), they are explicitly told the consequences of lying on government forms. Recruits are also required to sign documentation confirming they are aware they are signing official government documentation, and the consequences for lying on the entrance forms can include being kicked out of the military. As for smoking, I don’t see why it is even worth lying about that. Being a smoker does not prohibit one from joining or serving in the military. But lying about it could cause problems down the road. In other words, lying about it is a no-win situation.

      As for the discharge, I can’t tell you what will happen. Being placed on a program to help with drug addiction is good. I sincerely hope your husband gets the help he needs and is able to conquer his addiction(s). But it isn’t uncommon to receive a discharge under other than honorable conditions or some other discharge that is less than a general discharge or honorable discharge. All I can recommend at this point it to continue seeking treatment and hope for the best. In the mean time, don’t do anything that would worsen the case against you. Best of luck.

  39. Hello Ryan, I am an E4 in the Army National Guard. I have completed 2 of my years in service out of my 8 year contract. I am married to an Active Duty Airmen who is currently stationed in Korea. He got accompanied orders to Japan for March for 3 years. I do plan to move there with him and am wondering what kind of steps I need to take without going AWOL. I did not get a sign on bonus and have not taken any money for schooling. I am in good standing with my unit. I have asked a few of my Sergeants as to what my options are and how I go about it, but they seem to have no answers. I’ve actually had a Corporal tell me to just go AWOL. Thank you in advance.

    • May, Do NOT listen to a barracks lawyer wearing Corporal stripes. Doing so will only get you into trouble. You need to decide what you want to do, then find a way to do it. There are several ways to get out of the Guard without breaking any rules or getting into trouble. Start by scheduling a meeting with your First Sergeant and explaining the situation. You are a dual military couple and your husband has orders to Japan. Ask if there is any way to: transfer orders to a Guard or Reserve unit in or near Japan, transfer to the active duty Air Force (rare, but possible under some circumstances), go into an inactive status for the duration of your husband’s assignment to Japan, or request release from your contract. There may also be other options for being released from your assignment.

      Whatever you do, do NOT go AWOL. You can get yourself into legal problems that will end up costing you a lot of money now, and potentially in the future, as it can impact your future career opportunities and may make you ineligible for veteran’s benefits. Take the time to learn the system and your options, then take the best course of action.

  40. I am a army veteran. I ETS in 2012 but had a flag and bar to reenlist…..does it mean I cant reenlist? I was honorably discharge with my ETS date not for being flagged.

    • Curt, I’m not familiar with the terminology, “had a flag and bar to reenlist.” The best I can tell you is to look at your DD Form 214 and find the section near the bottom labeled “Reentry Code.” (this is also known as your reenlistment code).

      You should be able to look up the reentry code online and have a better idea of whether or not you will be eligible to reenlist. Keep in mind that even if you have a reentry code that makes you eligible to reenlist, it may be difficult to find a job in the Army at your previous rank and MOS, due to the current downsizing. You may find it easier to join the Guard or Reserves if you cannot find an active duty position. It may also be possible to join the Guard or Reserves in another branch of service if you are unable to find the job you want in the Army. Best of luck, and thanks for your service!

  41. Hi Ryan, I am a recent retiree from active duty. My new job asked me my veterans status. I was wondering about the definition of “Recently separated veteran” — which is one who “served on active duty in the United States military, ground, naval, or air service during the three-year period beginning on the date of such veteran’s discharge or release from active duty.” Is a retiree considered “released” from active duty? I had always thought the terms “discharged” or “released” referred to veterans who had served less than 20 years. Thanks.

    • Mike, For this purpose, yes, I believe it would be appropriate to use the term “released” from active duty. Most companies only use this information for internal purposes. If your company deals with government contracts, then they may use this information when making bids for govt. contracts. You should contact your company HR rep if you have questions about how the information is used. Their response can often help you determine the appropriate answer. I hope this is helpful!

  42. I got out several years ago on an honorable discharge and I was trying to find out what happend to my TSP. Does anyone know how to find out about that.

  43. Sara says:
    June 3, 2014 at 12:11 pm
    Hello, I enlisted in the OHIO NG for a little over a year now and I can honeslty say that the military isn’t for me and like to know how to get out with a honorable discharge? I also received a scholarship to complete my BA degree do I have to pay that back if I get discharged? Help.


    to reply to sara….I’m an example of what the policy WAS in the 80’s; I am not sure if the policy is different now but I’d be curious as to what response you recv. from VA in current policy… I signed up for 3 yrs enlistment into regular Army, went thru basic training (graduated) & AIT (advanced individual training) and graduated, I got assigned to my permanent duty station and while I was there I WAS able to pass my Physical aptitude training standards BUT my Body Mass Index during EACH weigh in became an ISSUE: I was on avg. no more than 5-10 lbs. over “military standard avg. range”, and my body fat percentages were not on mark either approx. 10% over. Unfortunately they overlooked my “weigh in results” in BT & AIT. Therefore in Permanent Duty it haunted me every time I was up for a pay grade increase and/or company/individual medal merit altho I exercised & jogged every chance I got! My company commander put me on Overweight Program and “flagged my MLPJ” until I could lessen the degree of my “issue”. Long story short (lol); I was persuaded to take an HONORABLE DISCHARGE with early release from my service at 1 yr. and 8 mos. When I was released from military back to my hometown and throughout my civilian life including now… I had to forfeit my GI bill (not eligible to ever use it, govt. kept all my $ contributions), wasn’t eligible for unemployment insurance after military release, not eligible for VA home loan, not eligible for VA health coverage, etc…even to this day!! So I plan on appealing after 20+ years from date of discharge.

  44. My son is currently at Ft. Benning. While training to go in, he found out he had Compartment Syndrome. He went to a top-notch specialist and had a very rare and expensive surgery to correct the problem (he only had the surgery because he wanted to go in Army SO bad.) He received a DEP and finally shipped in September. At MEPS he passed with flying colors. The doctors had his papers, a release from his surgeon saying is was a simple surgery and a personal letter from his surgeon saying he was 100% and ready for combat training. Before he left, my son was running 2 miles a day and doing Cross-fit every day!! MEPS docs said his leg looked great— and said, “you are shipping”. For three weeks we heard nothing from our son, then this week we get a call that they are medically discharging him. A physical therapy student from Auburn was at the Base when they were doing PT at Reception and said “what’s that scar”. My son explained about the Compartment surgery to loosen the fascia around his shin muscle. They immediately drug him to the doctors in Reception. He was then told his leg was a “liability” and he would have to go home to “recover” for 6 months. We found out he has been in Reception this entire time without any way to talk to us—and we can’t write him. He said he has no idea how long he will be there. His recruiters even told us that this is crazy, because they don’t override MEPS like that. My son is a phenomenal athlete (HECK only phenomenal athletes get compartment syndrome!) The surgery actually MAKES THEM BETTER THAN THEY WERE BEFORE. He said he feels like he is in prison—the army has been my son’s dream since he was a little kid. He is devastated.

  45. MarineMarvin says:

    Hi Ryan,

    Thank you for providing such expert advice to many concerned people.

    Can someone who was discharged with OTH status for a positive drug (marijuana) screen have his discharge status upgraded in order to qualify for VA benefits? He was on a 10 day break and engaged in this activity at a social event; he reported back to base and was tested. Sad thing is that he only had less than a month left with the Marines until he completed his duties. He is in the process of being diagnosed with PTSD. From what I know, he was treating his PTSD with the marijuana.

    What are your thoughts on this? Be has not had his hearing yet. Questions:

    1. Can he get his status upgraded in this situation?
    2. Should he wait for his hearing before sending a letter to his congressman?
    3. What would you do?

    Thank you again and God bless.

    • MarineMarvin,

      Thanks for contacting me. Can a discharge status be upgraded in the face of drug charges? Maybe. But in most cases, drug charges are hard to change. It doesn’t really matter whether the servicemember was on leave when the incident occurred, or whether or not the servicemember was close to separating from the service. All servicemembers are aware of the military’s rules against drug use.

      Could a PTSD rating change things? Possibly. And the VA shouldn’t deny treatment for a service-connected disability. What would I do? Based on the above information, I would hire a lawyer that specializes in helping veterans with legal issues such as discharge ratings, or filing VA disability claims. This is a complicated situation, and one that is best helped with specialized legal assistance. We do not recommend specific lawyers through our website, so we recommend contacting a Veterans Service Organization such as the DAV, VFW, American Legion, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, or another veteran’s group to see if they have any recommendations for lawyers in your area. Best of luck.

  46. I received an undisirable discharge in 1972 after being AWOL for 2 years is that considered other than honorable can I get VA benefits

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