By Debbie Gregory.
The Pentagon is helping some veterans with other-than-honorable discharges, also known as “bad paper” discharges, increased direction on obtaining a record review and upgrade.
Last month, the Department of Defense announced that it will direct the review boards for each service branch to consider a more liberal criteria to give veterans the opportunity to plead their cases and explain the extenuating circumstances of their discharge. This is especially beneficial for bad paper discharges received while suffering from traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of military operations, sexual assault, or sexual harassment.
Veterans with bad paper discharges have long complained that they were drummed out of the service with no consideration of their invisible wounds.
According to Air Force Lt. Col. Reggie Yager, the acting director of legal policy in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, “Liberal consideration, in our view, is the right balance to ensure we are making fact-based decisions while also giving appropriate leeway to the challenges posed by these invisible wounds.”
A General Accountability Office report released earlier this year found that of nearly 92,000 service members discharged for misconduct between 2011 and 2015, nearly two-thirds were suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury or mental health issues such as PTSD, anxiety, bipolar or substance abuse disorders.
Vietnam-era veterans also had a large number of bad paper discharges for misconduct
Veterans seeking a discharge upgrade will need to provide evidence to support their claim.
Under the new DoD guidance, the reviewing authorities will need to ask:
- Whether the veteran had a condition or experience that may excuse or mitigate the discharge;
- If the condition existed or experience occurred during military service;
- If the condition or experience excuses or mitigates the discharge; and
- If the condition or experience outweighs the discharge.