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Types of Military Discharges VA Benefits

When a veteran applies for VA disability benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will take into account the type of discharge you received after leaving military service. Depending on the type of discharge, it may affect an individual’s eligibility for VA disability benefits.

Listed below are the different types of military discharges:

Honorable discharge

An Honorable Discharge (HD) is the discharge given to Americans who met the standards of conduct and successfully performed their duty while serving in the military.

General discharge

A General Discharge (GD) is the discharge given to Americans who performed their duties with good intentions but may have gotten into a bit of minor trouble while doing so. Generally you are discharged with this status for reasons such as:

  • Failure to progress in training
  • Failure to maintain military standards
  • Minor disciplinary infractions

Other than honorable discharge

An “Other than Honorable” Discharge is the discharge given to Americans who violated military service standards of behavior and conduct. This is the worst type of discharge one can receive. Examples of reasons for this type of discharge include:

  • Serious act of misconduct or violence
  • Pattern of continued misconduct
  • Drug or Alcohol abuse
  • Abuse of authority
  • Fraternization


Military Discharge Upgrade

Although difficult, it is possible to change your military discharge status if you feel the military incorrectly gave you a status you did not deserve. There are two military boards that are responsible for reviewing discharge papers: the Discharge Review Board (DRB) and the Board of Correction for Military Records (BCMR). Both boards are capable of upgrading other than honorable, general, and special court-martial discharges as well as changing a veteran’s character of service (discharge reason). Any veteran can directly apply through either board as long as they were not discharged longer than 15 years ago. If you were discharged longer than 15 years ago, a Discharge Review Board (DRB) will not hear your case; you will need to apply through a Board of Correction for Military Records (BCMR). To have two chances at upgrading or changing your military discharge status, apply to the DRB first. If the DRB doesn’t make the decision you were hoping for, you can still apply to the BCMR.

A veteran will need to prove to the DRB or BCMR that the discharge was either “inequitable” or “improper.”

Inequitable Discharge

- This means that the veteran believes that the discharge was too severe for the offenses committed. The board will then evaluate your record under “current standards” to determine if you were wrongfully given a bad discharge.

Improper Discharge

- This means that the veteran believes the command didn’t follow general procedure during the discharge process. Examples of an improper discharge include: command didn’t process the forms correctly or command didn’t do enough to rehabilitate the veteran.

How to Submit Your Application

You can fill out the application online or pick one up at your regional VA office. Make sure you are very clear and detailed in your application as to why you believe you deserve to have your discharge upgraded or changed. If you forget to mention any problems or concerns within the application, the board will not take them into consideration during the hearing. Also add any records or documentation (medical or military) that are related to your discharge and argument. Finish the application by submitting it online or mailing it to your branch of the military. Here are the addresses of the military branches to mail your application to:


Army Review Boards Agency
251 18th Street South
Suite 385
Arlington, VA 22202-3531


Secretary of the Navy
Council of Review Boards
ATTN: Naval Discharge Review Board
720 Kennon Ave S.E., Suite 309
Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5023

Air Force

Air Force Review Boards Agency
550-C Street West, Suite 40
Randolph AFB, TX 78150-4742

Coast Guard

Commandant (CG-122)
Attn: Office of Military Personnel
US Coast Guard
2100 2nd Street S.W., Stop 7801
Washington, DC 20593-7801

Can I appeal the board’s decision?

If you filed an appeal with the Discharge Review Board (DRB) and they rejected your request for an upgrade, you may file an appeal with the Board of Correction for Military Records (BCMR.) Fill out and submit the application online or at your regional VA office.