The U.S. military estimates that tens of thousands of Veterans with less than honorable discharges are likely to have discharges deserving of upgrades. These are Veterans who were discharged due to incidents relating to post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, sexual assault or sexual orientation. Essentially, these Veterans received a less than honorable discharge for what could be considered a service-connected condition.
In 2017, the VA received more than 5,000 calls with questions about military records, eligibility and discharge statuses. Many of those callers had sifted through multiple government and non-government websites but could not find the information they needed to try to upgrade their discharge.
When speaking to Veterans directly about the process, what they said was “It’s jargon. I don’t understand,” “…brings in a thousand different variables all at once” and “the runaround is overwhelming.”
For these reasons, VA partnered with the Department of Defense to launch an online tool that provides clear, customized steps tailored to the individual Veteran. After answering a series of questions, the Veteran is provided with a single page of personalized information containing the correct form and military board for their case, as well as tips regarding the process and the supporting documentation they will need to upgrade their discharge.
“We are thrilled to have partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs in developing this wonderful and easily accessible tool,” said Robert Wilkie, under secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. “We support our Veterans, whether they served recently or long ago and we are excited to introduce a tool that will individualize the guidance for those who desire an upgrade or change in their military discharge.”
About the author: Natalie Moore is a product manager for VA’s Digital Services.