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Military Discharges

Types of Military Discharges: The Quick and Dirty

For active-duty service members leaving the military, it is not always as simple as retiring, resigning one’s commission, or ETSing. There are many different ways to be involuntary removed from the military. The types of administrative discharges are: Honorable, General Under Honorable Conditions, and Other Than Honorable (OTH).* Honorable is generally reserved for service members who surprise, surprise, have served honorably. This basically means, service members who have not gotten into trouble and who have performed in a satisfactory manner. General Under Honorable Conditions is used most often for service members who do not perform in a satisfactory manner or who engage in minor misconduct. OTH discharges are generally used when service members commit serious misconduct, which does not warrant a court-martial. 

There are also three different types of punitive discharges: Bad-Conduct Discharge (BCD), Dishonorable Discharge (DD), and Dismissal.  The rule is that BCDs and DDs only apply to enlisted service members, whereas dismissals only apply to officers. **  

Administrative discharges should not be confused with punitive discharges. Punitive discharges are sentences that can be received from court-martial convictions, whereas, involuntary administrative discharges are the result of enlisted separations and officer eliminations. In fact, a service member is not allowed to receive an administrative discharge at a court-martial. This of course does not preclude one’s unit from administratively separating the service member for a court-martial conviction that did not result in a punitive discharge. However, if this is happening to you, certain procedural safeguards may apply and limit the severity of discharge that can be imposed. It is important that your attorney understand these intricacies when advising you of your options.

The type of discharge you receive can affect your life in concrete ways from future employment opportunities to eligibility for VA benefits.  You may be interested in reading more in this VA Blog Post

If you believe you are being separated with an unfair characterization of services, contact us now for a free consultation.

 * There is another type, which is uncharacterized administrative separation, but the rules are fact depending and outside the scope of this article.

** One notable exception to this is a Warrant Officer One can receive a DD.

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