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DD214 Discharge

With certain exceptions, an honorable discharge or a general discharge under honorable conditions is binding upon VA for all benefits purposes.

If the discharge was less than honorable, VA will determine (when application for Benefits or Healthcare is made) if the discharge was under other than dishonorable conditions so long as it was not issued for any of the reasons constituting a statutory bar to benefits, such as a discharge or dismissal by reason of sentence of a general court-martial, or a resignation of an officer for the good of the service, etc.

If VA determines that the discharge was issued under other than dishonorable conditions, the claimant is eligible to proceed with his or her claim for benefits. Otherwise, the claim(s) must be denied.

Persons whose discharge from service was under Other Than Honorable (OTH) conditions may instead choose to apply for a review of the discharge by the Service Department. This may be either by a Discharge Review Board or by a Board for Correction of Military Records.


It is clear that many OTH discharges can be attributed to undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury symptoms. Congress instructed the Department of Defense (DoD) to create a process through which these discharges can be appealed and, possibly, reversed.

All branches of the military consider you to have a strong case for a discharge upgrade if you can show your discharge was connected to any of these categories:

  • Mental health conditions, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Sexual assault or harassment during military service
  • Sexual orientation (including under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy)

Through a joint initiative, Department of Defense and VA launched an online tool help veterans with the discharge recharacterization process.

The site will ask veterans a few questions. By answering them, the veteran will know which board they need to go to, what form to fill out, any special guidance applicable to their case, where to send their application, and helpful tips for appealing their discharge.

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