When you are facing an administrative separation, there is no substitute for hiring an aggressive, experienced military defense attorney.
The Army calls an administrative separation a “chapter.” The chapters of Army Regulations (AR 635-200 or AR 600-8-24) list the reasons and procedures for Army administrative separations. The Navy sometimes calls this an ADSEP for short. The Air Force calls this a military separation or an administrative discharge. All service branches follow similar procedures, though there are some differences.
Whatever you call it, an administrative separation is worse than just losing your job. Anything less than an honorable discharge means losing the GI Bill and other benefits. A negative service characterization follows you the rest of your life. For military members who are close to retirement, this can mean the loss of millions of dollars. This is a major loss to the military member and also to family member dependents.
When you have less than 6 years of service, you will not get a board hearing. However, you still have hope. The best military defense lawyers will intervene, collect witness statements, and make a compelling case. You only have a few days to respond, and time is of the essence. Call us now! We can engage on your behalf and present the best possible case to your chain of command.
How can you keep your job in the military?
Retention occurs when you present a compelling case to your commander or to your board. Your written response alone will not be enough. You need support from current or past supervisors, and direct engagement by an experienced military defense attorney. Some cases have specific retention criteria that you need to prove. Military Law does not miss any opportunities to advocate for you and your future.
How do you win at an administrative separation board?
If you have at least 6 years of service (or 8 in the Coast Guard), you will get a board. You will also get a board if your command recommends an Under Other Than Honorable Conditions (UOTHC or OTH) discharge. These boards have several different names:
- Administrative Separation Board
- ADSEP Board (Navy)
- Administrative Discharge Board (Air Force)
- Elimination Board (Army officers)
- Board of Officers
- Show Cause Board, Board of Inquiry, or BOI (officers)
Whatever you call it, a board hearing is a very powerful due process right! When you consider the high stakes of your military career, retirement, and benefits, hiring an experienced military trial lawyer to advocate at your discharge board is a smart investment. Every case is different, and we cannot promise you will win, but we routinely fight and win against felony level court-martial charges. We put the same effort and skill into fighting to win at board hearings. Assigned military defense attorneys, especially those who handle board hearings, are very junior and do not always make the best calls. At Military Law, we do not hire amateurs, and we do not get on-the-job training at your expense. Our military lawyers have the highest levels of experience, and we will fight for you!
What are the reasons for administrative separation?
Several types of events can trigger this:
- An adverse finding from an official investigation (AR 15-6 or CDI)
- One or more administrative actions (LOR or GOMOR)
- Nonjudicial punishment (NJP) under Article 15, UCMJ
- A positive drug test (usually a urinalysis).
- An allegation of serious misconduct
- A court-martial conviction
- A conviction by civilian authorities
- A command directed mental health evaluation (CDE)
What can happen in this process?
- The military may separate you from the service. You would lose your job. You may also lose your honorable discharge, GI Bill, and military benefits; or
- The military may retain you for further service, with or without a “second chance” or “probation and rehabilitation” program.
What kinds of separation are there?
If the military separates you, you will receive a form DD214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. This form will contain a summary of your military service and will state the reason for your discharge. It will also list a reenlistment (RE) code. Anything other than an RE Code-1 means you would require a waiver or exception to policy to reenlist.
Your DD214 will also list a character of service. In an administrative separation, there are 3 types:
- Honorable: You keep all your Veterans benefits, including your GI Bill education benefits, if otherwise eligible.
- General Under Honorable Conditions (GUH): Also called a “General” discharge. You keep most of your benefits, but you lose the GI Bill. For some employment opportunities, you may not be as competitive as someone with an Honorable discharge.
- Under Other Than Honorable Conditions (UOTHC or OTH): You lose all your benefits. It may be difficult or impossible to get a federal job in the future. If your chain of command recommends this, you will get a board hearing–this is a very powerful due process right! A board hearing is similar to a jury trial, but the rules of evidence are more relaxed. Having an experienced military defense lawyer fight for you can make a world of difference!
Can you appeal an administrative separation?
Yes, you can, but your best chances of success are always in your initial response or board hearing.
Discharge Review Board (DRB):
- Must apply within 15 years of the date of your discharge
- Written appeal or personal appearance (video/teleconference)
- Cannot change a punitive discharge by a general court-martial
- Cannot directly reinstate you to military service
- Cannot add or change disability ratings or medical separations
- Can request changes to:
- Character of Service (Block 24 on DD214); and/or
- Narrative Reason for Separation (Block 28 on DD214)
- Can hire an experienced lawyer to prepare your appeal
Board for Correction of Military / Naval Records (BCMR / BCNR)
- You must exhaust other available options, such as the DRB
- You must apply within 3 years from the date of the error or injustice
- You can request waiver of the 3-year time limit “in the interests of justice”
- Written appeal only
- Can request a change to almost anything in your military record
- Can hire an experienced lawyer to prepare your appeal