Men and women who commit their lives to service in the United States military often are eligible for benefits after their periods of service end. Whether they may receive those benefits, though, can depend upon the manner in which they were discharged from their branches of service. This post will generally discuss military discharges, what those different discharges can mean for Fairfax residents, and what a person can do to improve their discharge status.

A military service member may receive an honorable discharge if their commanding officer believed that they served competently and met or exceeded all of their responsibilities. From honorable, a discharge may be lowered to general which can indicate that the service member failed in some respects regarding their service commitments and responsibilities.

Dishonorable discharges are serious matters that are the result of court-martial proceedings. The range of discharge statuses that the military can convey can impact the benefits service members may receive and it is therefore in service members’ interests to leave the military with the highest possible discharge statuses.

If a service member believes that their commanding officer erred in assigning them a lower than expected discharge status, that service member may apply for a discharge upgrade. A discharge upgrade requires the applicant to prove that their commanding officer erroneously or intentionally gave the service member a lower than necessary rating. Discharge upgrades can take time to process, and there are several steps in seeing one’s application through.

Discharge upgrades are uncommon, but the process exists because some service members suffer for mistakes made by their commanding officers. Military lawyers can provide their service member clients with guidance on how discharge statuses and discharge upgrades may serve their needs into the future.