By Debbie Gregory.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has launched a new online wizard that will assist veterans who are seeking to upgrade their military discharges.
By going to the VA’s Vets.gov benefits website, participants go through a series of questions that guides them, step by step, through the upgrade process based on their individual situation.
This is an especially good tool for veterans who are trying to correct or upgrade “bad paper” discharges. Veterans with bad paper discharges have long complained that they were drummed out of the service with no consideration of their invisible wounds.
All branches of the military consider a strong case for a discharge upgrade if applicants can show their discharge was connected to any of these categories:
Mental health conditions, including Post Traumatic 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)
By answering a series of questions, users get customized step-by-step instructions on how to apply for a discharge upgrade or correction. If their application goes through and the discharge is upgraded, these veterans will become eligible for the VA benefits they earned during their period of service.
If a previous upgrade application was denied, users can apply again, especially if the application is significantly different from the original. For example, the applicant may have additional evidence that wasn’t available during the original application was processed, or the Department of Defense (DoD) may have issued new rules regarding discharges. (DoD rules changed for discharges related to PTSD, TBI, and mental health in 2014, military sexual harassment and assault in 2017, and sexual orientation in 2011.)
The wizard will also assist those who require an updated DD214 or DD215 to reflect an upgrade.