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There are two broad categories of military discharges including an honorable discharge and a dishonorable discharge. There are a variety of circumstances, both good and bad, that my lead to a servicemember’s separation from the military so it is helpful for them to understand what those circumstances are.

Servicemembers may have strong feelings about the discharge process so it is helpful for them to be familiar with what the process looks like. There are generally two types of discharge which can either be administrative or punitive. An honorable discharge is considered an administrative discharge and might be for a failure to maintain military standards of weight, fitness, dress or appearance; or a failure to progress in the servicemember’s training; or for receiving minor disciplinary infractions. An other than honorable discharge may also be possible so servicemembers should understand what those circumstances look like as well.

A bad conduct discharge may follow a conviction for being absent without leave; being drunk while on duty; driving while under the influence; adultery; disorderly conduct; or bad checks. A dismissal is another option that may be possible. A dishonorable discharge is considered the worst types of discharge and is given for a general court martial for offenses that can be accompanied by a prison sentence in a military prison.

There are many different types of discharges and because of that, and the complexities of military law generally, servicemembers and their families should understand these possibilities, distinctions and differences. Understanding what they may face can help military members know how to respond and the impact it will have on their service and future.