Experienced Military Discharge Upgrade Attorneys.



Begin the process of upgrading your military discharge by signing up online today.
No wait, no hassle.

Get your life back
with Lifeback Legal.


  • Case handled by Military Discharge Upgrade attorneys.
  • Knowledgeable about the Military Discharge and Change in Narrative Characterization Process
  • Proven experience dealing with the DRB, BCMR and BCNR
  • Prepared to deal with objections or requests.
  • Affordable, flat fees for all services.
  • Interest-free payment plans.
  • 14-day price matching guarantee.
Military Discharge Upgrade Attorney
Military Discharge Upgrade Attorney

Change the characterization of your military discharge.


If you received anything other than an honorable discharge on your DD-214 Discharge Certificate from the United States Armed Services, then you know how it can create issues with receiving VA benefits and more. There is hope, however. Contact one of our experience Military Discharge Upgrade attorneys today.

WHAT IS U.S. MILITARY DISCHARGE UPGRADE?

Simply put, a way to get your life back.

A military Discharge Upgrade changes the character of your discharge on your DD-214 Discharge Certificate from the United States Armed Services if it involved anything other than an honorable discharge. As a veteran, this is important because the nature of your military discharge can affect your civil liberties such as the ability to possess a firearm or the ability to obtain benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). You can change the character of your military discharge by performing a Discharge Upgrade or by obtaining a Change in the Narrative Reason for Your Separation. Finally, you may also request a Character of Discharge Determination from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). This does not change your discharge characterization, but can restore some of your VA benefits. To read more about this process click here. 

Lifeback Legal is a division of the law firm of Shea M. Randall. Our law firm believes in honoring our United States veterans and works hard to help you obtain the benefits you deserve. Our expert military discharge attorneys are prepared to give you the strongest case possible to the Discharge Review Board  and to help give you back your civil liberties and veteran benefits.

In order to begin your Military Discharge Upgrade, we recommend having your service record examined by an experienced and licensed attorney in order to determine the best path forward. To help with this, our law firm provides a Military Discharge Relief Analysis for $300, which will assess your service record in light of the items discussed on this page. The cost of this analysis may then be applied as a credit towards your eligible service. 

Sign up online today or contact our office now at (888) 751-5329 for a free 15-minute consultation with a military discharge upgrade attorney.

 

How Can I Upgrade My Military Discharge?

Begin the process of upgrading your military discharge by signing up online today. No wait, no hassle.

An individual can change the character of their discharge on their DD-214 Discharge Certificate by either requesting a Discharge Upgrade or by requesting a Change in the Narrative Reason for Separation to their respective Discharge Review Board (DRB), the Board for Correction of Military Records (BMCR), or the Board for Correction of Naval Records (BCNR), respectively.

Since a Discharge Upgrade is the most serious and consequential form of discharge relief, we will discuss this at length. We will then deal briefly with Changing The Narrative Reason for your discharge.

Option 1: Military Discharge Upgrade


Again, the most difficult to obtain, but the one with the most consequences for restoring your firearm rights is a Discharge Upgrade. A Discharge Upgrade changes the “character of service” shown on your DD-214 discharge certificate, which can be any of the following: Honorable, General (Under Honorable Conditions), Other Than Honorable, Bad Conduct, or Dishonorable.

Step 1: Determine Where to Apply:


In order to begin the process of a Discharge Upgrade, an applicant will first want to determine where they need to apply for their upgrade. This will depend on your branch of service, your date of discharge, and the type of changes you want made to your military record. 

Military Discharge Upgrade Attorney

Restore your rights and benefits.


Obtaining a Discharge Upgrade or a Change in the Narrative Reason for Separation can change the character of your discharge on your DD-214 Discharge Certificate from the United States Armed Services, restoring some of your civil liberties and VA benefits.   

If you served in the Air Force, Army, or Coast Guard, you will need to apply to their respective Discharge Review Boards (DRBs). A DRB has limited power, but can upgrade a discharge and change the reason for a discharge. However, they cannot upgrade a discharge that resulted from a General Court-Martial or change the reason for a discharge that was based on a disability discharge.

If, however, you served in the Navy or the Marine Corps, then these have a joint DRB while the Air Force, Army, and Coast Guard have what is known as a Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMRs). The Navy and Marine Corps have a joint Board known as the Correction of Naval Records (BCNR). If you served in any of these branches of the military, then you will want to apply to the appropriate Board.

In addition, a BCMR or BCNR, will only accept your application if you’ve tried the other possible ways of obtaining relief. This means that if you are requesting something that a DRB can do – a Discharge Upgrade, a Change in the Reason for your Discharge, or both – then you have to first apply to a DRB, unless the deadline for applying to the DRB has passed. If you are requesting anything else, then you can bypass the DRB and apply directly to a BCMR or BCNR.

Step 2: Determine the Timelines for applying to the Discharge Boards:


You have 15 years from the date of your discharge to apply to a DRB. To apply to a BCMR or the BCNR, you are required to apply within three years of the date you first discover the error or injustice that you are seeking to correct. There are three exceptions to this rule:

  • First, if a DRB reviews your application and denies it, then you have three years from the date of the denial to apply to a BCMR or BCNR. This is true even if you first discovered the error or injustice much earlier than three years ago.
  • Second, a BCMR or BCNR has the power to ignore, or “waive,” the three-year deadline “in the interest of justice,” which it often does, especially if you’ve laid out a good case for upgrading your discharge or given other good reasons, such as honestly explaining that you didn’t know you were eligible to apply.
  • Third, a BCMR or BCNR will waive the deadline if you are raising issues that involve Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and related conditions such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Finally, if a board denies your application and it involved an issue of PTSD, TBI, mental health issue, or sexual assault or harassment, then you will want to familiarize yourself with the Hagel, Kurta, or Carter Memos issued by the Department of Defense (DOD).

Step 3: Prepare Your Case For Why You Should Obtain An Upgrade:


A DRB will usually not be able to see why you should get an upgrade from just reviewing your military records. Instead, you will need to explain why your request should be granted, using specific legal concepts and terms.

A DRB considers two basic issues: “equity” (fairness) and “propriety” (legal error).

If you believe your discharge was unfair, or “inequitable,” you’ll again need to explain why. If instead of an equitable claim, you are claiming illegality, or “impropriety,” then you are claiming that the military didn’t follow its own rules when it discharged you. Since this is a serious charge, you will need to explain how the military ignored or misapplied a specific rule, regulation, law, or procedure that was in effect at the time of your discharge.

The BCMR and BCNR use different terms for the same concepts of fairness and legal error: “injustice” and “error.”

“Injustice” is the same as the DRB’s “inequity” – they both refer to unfairness. On the other hand, “error” is similar to the DRB’s “impropriety” and refers to illegality. So while they use different terms and language, they both mean essentially the same thing and an applicant will need to make similar arguments. 

Step 4: Strengthen Your Case:


When you submit your request, you will want to prepare a strong case by including strong documentary evidence. Some suggested items should be: 

  • A detailed statement explaining your experiences and the reasons for your upgrade request.
  • Copies of your military records, including:
    • Positive evaluations, length of service, and any deployments and awards;
    • Health records showing any medical or mental health issues that may have affected your service and/or demonstrate the hardships you experienced; or
    • Details of discharge, including any evidence that proper rules were not followed or outdated rules were inappropriately applied.
  • Copies of documents that demonstrate events that affected you during service (such as divorce papers, or a death certificate or hospital records of a family member/loved one).
  • Character reference letters from friends, family members, or service buddies confirming the reasons why your request should be granted, including in-service events and/or post-service achievements.

For both types of Boards it can also be helpful to present information showing a “positive” post-service history in your application. Examples of this can be evidence of educational or professional achievement, dedication to family or religious matters, or volunteer activities in your community.

While a positive post-service history is not necessary to succeed, it is extremely important if you are trying to upgrade a punitive discharge — i.e., one for Bad Conduct, a Dishonorable Discharge, or other discharges imposed after a court-martial. The only basis for upgrading a punitive discharge is clemency. In other words, the Board must find a good reason for treating you compassionately, and upgrading your discharge despite your court-martial conviction. For that reason, it’s essential to present strong evidence of compelling achievements since your military discharge.

Finally, you will also want to familiarize yourself with important Department of Defense (DOD) guidelines and rules that may help you argue why the Board should allow you to obtain an upgrade. These rules are contained in several memos, but the most important memos are the Hagel Memo, the Carson Memo, and Kurta Memo. All three of these concern guidance on issues pertaining to PTSD, TBI, mental health, and sexual assault and harassment. If your discharge or military performance concerns any of these issues, then it is imperative to consult these when submitting your Discharge Upgrade.

Please note: in some circumstances, the military must give you a pre-discharge examination if there are indications you suffered from PTSD, TBI, or experienced sexual assault in the service. If there was some evidence you had one of these conditions or experienced a sexual assault and you did not receive an exam for the military to account for this in your discharge characterization, you may have an argument that your discharge was improper or in error (See, 10 USC §1177).

Step 5: Choose Whether You Want a Personal Appearance or Documentary Review of your Request


Lastly, when submitting your Discharge Upgrade paperwork to a Discharge Review Board (DRB) you have the option of choosing between a Documentary Review or a Personal Appearance Review (aka, an in-person hearing).

In a Documentary Review, the DRB considers evidence from your service records, together with any other written evidence or argument that you submit. A Personal Appearance Review, however, is where the DRB considers both your evidence from your service records and allows you to present your case in person to a panel of military personnel. These Personal Appearance Review hearings are often held in or near Washington, D. C., but the Air Force and Army DRBs occasionally visit other cities to conduct hearings. In some cases, you may even be able to get a telephonic hearing.

Most BCMR and BCNR decisions are based only on paperwork, however.  Very rarely will they give you permission to tell your story in person at a hearing. If they do give you that option, you’ll need to travel to the Board headquarters, in or near Washington, D. C. at your own expense.

Please know, though, that while obtaining a hearing may give you an opportunity to argue your case in person, and thus increase your likelihood of success, it can also significantly decrease the time your application is processed since obtaining a hearings takes a significant amount of time. In other words, requesting a review of your paperwork can often mean a quicker outcome, than waiting for a hearing. 

Our expert military discharge attorneys are prepared to give you the strongest case possible to change the character of your discharge and give you back your civil liberties and veteran benefits. Sign up online today or contact our office now at (888) 751-5329 for a free 15-minute consultation with a military discharge upgrade attorney.

Option 2: Change in the Narrative Reason for Separation


The second way to change the characterization of your military discharge on your DD-214 Discharge Certificate, is to change the “Narrative Reason for Separation.” Among the many possible narrative reasons for separation listed on your DD-214 Certificate could be: misconduct, disability, personality disorder, homosexual conduct, to name just a few. 

As long as you’re within the deadlines discussed for a Discharge Upgrade, a DRB has the authority to also Change the Narrative Reason for Separation shown on your DD-214 – unless of course, you’re trying to change the reason for a discharge that was based on a disability, as discussed above. 

The forms and procedures for applying for a Change in the Narrative Reason are the same as the forms and procedures for applying for a Discharge Upgrade. If the DRB lacks the authority to change the reason, or if it denies your application for a change, you can then apply to a BCMR or the BCNR.

Please note that the evidence you need to submit for a Change in the Narrative Reason for Separation may be somewhat different from what you would submit for a Discharge Upgrade. For example, if the military discharged you with a narrative reason of “personality disorder,” but a psychiatrist or psychologist later diagnosed you with PTSD, you’ll want to submit evidence showing the new diagnosis.

In order to get started you will also want to review the separation regulations, which were in effect at the time of your discharge. This is because it is very possible that some of these regulations have changed since the time of your discharge, allowing you to argue that had they been in effect when you were discharged, the military would have assigned you a more favorable narrative reason.

Our military discharge attorneys are experienced with these regulations and can prepare you the strongest case possible. Sign up online today or contact our office now at (888) 751-5329 for a free 15-minute consultation with a military discharge upgrade attorney.

Military Discharge Upgrade Attorney

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Military Discharge Upgrade Attorney

Shea M. Randall

Founding Attorney

In order to begin your military Discharge Upgrade or Change in the Narrative Reason for Separation, we strongly recommend having your military record examined by an experienced and licensed attorney. This is because there are several possible issues involved and by seeing the totality of your record, we can best advise you of next steps.

To help with this we offer a comprehensive Military Discharge Relief Analysis for $300, which allows us to review your record in order to provide you with a roadmap to the best approach to obtain your relief. The cost of the Analysis may then be applied towards your eligible service.  Our team of professionals want to help you and will let you know exactly what your situation requires as quickly as possible.

Lifeback Legal is a division of the Law Firm of Shea M. Randall, a trusted California Law Firm. We specialize in helping individuals get their life back with California criminal record expungements and federal licensing services.

Begin your military Discharge Upgrade online today or by contacting our office today at (888) 751-5329 to speak with a military discharge upgrade attorney.


Military Discharge Upgrade
$300
Applies as a credit towards your eligible service.
Flat fee. Transparent pricing.
Upgrade My Military Discharge

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Military Discharge Upgrade Attorney
  • Case handled by Military Discharge Upgrade attorney
  • Proven experience dealing with the DRB, BCMR and BCNR
  • Analysis Takes 1-2 Business Weeks
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  • Fixed, Flat Fee

Experienced Military Discharge Upgrade Attorneys.



Begin the process of upgrading your military discharge by signing up online today.
No wait, no hassle.

Military Discharge Upgrade Attorney

Get your life back
with Lifeback Legal.

  • Case handled by Military Discharge Upgrade attorneys.
  • Knowledgeable about the Military Discharge and Change in Narrative Characterization Process
  • Proven experience dealing with the DRB, BCMR and BCNR
  • Prepared to deal with objections or requests.
  • Affordable, flat fees for all services.
  • Interest-free payment plans.
  • 14-day price matching guarantee.

Need assistance?
Call (888) 751-5329 for a free 15-minute consultation.