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Can I get veterans' benefits with a dishonorable discharge?

Last month, this blog discussed the process of seeking a discharge upgrade. Put simply, a discharge upgrade improves the character of a veteran's discharge and, therefore, increases their capacity to obtain veterans' benefits by virtue of their years of military service. Discharge upgrades can be vitally important to the futures of military personnel, as many of the benefits they should enjoy require them to have discharge statuses other than dishonorable.

For example, military pension and compensation benefits are only applicable to veterans who have non-dishonorable discharges. These can be honorable discharges, general discharges and other forms that are not dishonorable. Additionally, some education benefits available to veterans require this same level of discharge character of their applicants.

Veterans who wish to obtain education benefits under the G.I. Bill or the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill must obtain honorable discharges in order to be successful in their applications. Also, veterans who wish to obtain home loan assistance through VA programs must have discharge characters better than dishonorable. Some veterans' insurance benefits are available to individuals with dishonorable discharges but others require better discharge statuses.

Therefore, it is important for a military service member to obtain the best discharge character possible when their military career ends. It can be difficult for a veteran with a dishonorable discharge to seek the many benefits available to those who have served their country and an undeserved dishonorable discharge can impose hardships on the service member's future. To discuss options for discharge upgrades and other discharge-related legal issues, readers may wish to contact military law attorneys in their communities.

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