We speak with many veterans who are seeking an honorable discharge. There are a myriad of reasons why people want an honorable discharge, but a recurrent theme is that the veteran wants to reclaim their honor, integrity, and good name.
Skeptics believe that the main reason a veteran wants to change his or her general under honorable conditions discharge, other than honorable discharge, bad conduct discharge, or dishonorable discharge is because the veteran just wants to collect benefits. Although options such as the GI Bill, access to Veteran Affairs hospitals, and the VA Home Loan program are certainly attractive benefits, there are deeper and more meaningful reasons for pursuing a discharge upgrade.
Affects of Unfavorable Discharges
Veterans are often discharged under exaggerated claims of misconduct, put through improper separation procedures, or receive inequitably harsh characterizations of service when his or her entire military career is taken into consideration. Receiving anything other than honorable discharge creates a stigma for the veteran and can taint the entirety of their military service. Various federal courts have recognized the reality that any discharge that is not an honorable discharge damages a veteran’s character and employability. When speaking with veterans, we are constantly hearing about how their unfavorable discharge has caused them to be prejudiced and looked down upon, and the veteran has decided to pursue the discharge upgrade so they can restore their honor and be able to speak proudly of their military service without the lingering regret of an unfavorable discharge.
Pursuing a Discharge Upgrade
As we approach Memorial Day, I would be negligent if I did not mention another reason for pursuing a discharge upgrade. There are countless veterans who have served the United States with honor and distinction, both at home and abroad, but have been discharged with an unfavorable characterization of service that will leave them without important recognition upon their death. These include meaningful gestures such as having a flag placed on their grave, being buried in a specific area of a cemetery reserved for veterans, and especially being buried with military honors, including having our country’s flag folded neatly into a triangle and presented to their surviving family members. These simple but incredibly significant acts are difficult to appreciate unless you have served our country in the Armed Forces. Before a veteran simply accepts that they will not be entitled to the benefits and recognition that they have earned, they need to speak with an attorney to discuss the options that he or she has to fight for the honorable discharge they have earned to regain their honor and restore their good name.