Military Discharge Upgrade Lawyer

Many veterans who seek upgrades have gone on to live exemplary lives since their discharge and are frustrated by the fact that they are being discriminated against based on a single incident that might have occurred at a young age.  Whether the underlying discharge was due to a criminal violation, such as drugs or theft, or some other reason altogether, employers might be hesitant to hire such individuals. In today’s competitive job market, even if such incidents happened years ago, discharged veterans are at a disadvantage. Discharge upgrade lawyer Jeff King offers a free (no pressure) consultation specifically to help you evaluate these factors. We will properly evaluate your case and provide open and honest feedback – even if that means tell you that your chances are slim. 

Reasons for a Discharge Upgrade

There are multiple reasons for wanting to update a discharge.  Some of these reasons include:

  • Greater career or job prospects; 
  • Increased educational benefits; 
  • To mitigate issues in the security clearance application process; 
  • To restore your reputation; 
  • To obtain federal or state employment; 
  • To obtain Veteran’s Affairs benefits; and/or 
  • To obtain compensation for service-connected illnesses and injuries.

Your less-than-favorable discharge ranking can negatively impact each of the above-mentioned considerations.  Thus, it is important that you try to obtain the best possible discharge in order to ensure that you set yourself up for future success in terms of your career and ability to obtain benefits. 

Your record of service, or Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD-214 or NGB-22, if National Guard), should reflect the most honorable discharge level possible.  Those military members who leave the service with anything less than an Honorable Discharge often face reduced job prospects and either reduced or eliminated benefits. 

Many veterans who seek upgrades have gone on to live exemplary lives since their discharge and are frustrated by the fact that they are being discriminated against based on a single incident that might have occurred at a young age.  Whether the underlying discharge was due to a criminal violation, such as drugs or theft, or some other reason altogether, employers might be hesitant to hire such individuals. In today’s competitive job market, even if such incidents happened years ago, discharged veterans are at a disadvantage. 

Those who can obtain an upgrade are more likely to obtain better jobs, plain and simple. In addition, they are able to obtain benefits, such as the GI Bill, which can enable them to pursue educational opportunities.

What is the Procedure for Obtaining an Upgrade?

You can apply to the Discharge Review Board (DRB) of your branch of the service for a discharge upgrade or a change in the discharge reason (that is, character of service). Each service branch has its own DRB, which is tasked with evaluating discharge upgrade requests. 

The procedures for upgrading discharges are governed by service regulations and can be complex and cumbersome. While the DRBs for each service are different, they all follow the same general guidance from the Department of Defense. However, each DRB each has its own distinct process for filing an upgrade. 

So long as your discharge was not part of a general courts-martial (Dishonorable Discharge), the applicable DRB has the authority to review your discharge.  In doing so, the DRB may examine, change, modify or correct the characterization of service and the for your discharge. 

The first step in requesting an update is to complete an Application for Review of Discharge From the Armed Services of the United States (link) (or DD-293). You can obtain this form online, but just make sure you are using the most updated version of this form. It is important to be thorough when completing this form, as any issues that you fail to list cannot be considered by the board, even if you or your attorney tries to raise them later on. 

In order to complete your application, you should first request a complete copy of your military and any relevant medical records so that you can submit them with your application.  You can obtain these records through the Veterans’ Records Section (link) of the National Archives and Records Administration website. Obtaining the records may take weeks, or even months in some cases. In practice, often a second request for records may be necessary if the service fails to provide complete records. It is also recommended that you include language referring to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in any record requests from the armed forces. 

Should you retain us to represent you in the upgrade process, discharge upgrade lawyer Jeff King will request and obtain the requisite files on your behalf. We will then complete your application. In addition to completing the DD-239 and enclosing relevant medical and/or military issues that relate to your upgrade request, we will gather evidence and draft a persuasive and comprehensive legal brief going over all of the reasons why you deserve an upgrade as well as a Statement of Material Contentions (a legal document that lays out the issues we want the DRB to address). 

In addition, we may submit any of the following documentary evidence, as applicable: Military records; Medical records; Records showing rehabilitation for drug or alcohol abuse; Good performance reviews; A statement from the service member; Statements from other services members that you served with (the higher the rank, the better); Character reference letters (these can be from friends, family members, employers, clergy, etc.); Educational records; Post-service employment records; Credit reports; Family responsibility documents (birth and marriage certificates, etc.); Awards; Criminal record reports; and/or Volunteer, charitable, or donation records. 

When requesting an upgrade, the burden is on the discharged veteran to prove that an upgrade is warranted. To get your discharge upgraded or your character of service changed, you will need to demonstrate that your discharge was either “improper” or “inequitable.” An improper discharge means that the discharge was based on factually incorrect information or was inconsistent with the law. An inequitable discharge means that the discharge was unfair or was inconsistent with the traditions and policies of the service. An example of a discharge that qualifies for an upgrade might be that a veteran served honorably and had a single bad incident or was abusing drugs or alcohol as a means of self-medicating post-traumatic stress disorder. 

In considering whether to grant you an upgrade, the DRB can consider the circumstances surrounding your discharge, your service record in its entirety, whether the discharge was fair and proper, as well as your life outside of the military. 

Despite some common misconceptions, you should know that discharge upgrades are never automatic. While having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) might improve your chances of obtaining an upgrade, there is no guarantee. 

Discharge Upgrade Hearings – On the DD-293 application, you will be asked whether you would like the DRB to decide your case on the papers or whether you would like an in-person hearing. If you ask for the DRB to decide your case on the papers, without a hearing, and they subsequently deny your request for an upgrade, you can then submit a request for a hearing.  This allows you to get two chances at a favorable decision. 

If a hearing is required in your matter, it will take place in Washington, D.C. The hearing will take place before the DRB, which usually consists of five officers. At the hearing, you can testify if you choose to. If you choose to testify under oath, the board can ask you questions. In lieu of testifying under oath at the hearing, you can submit a written statement to avoid being questioned by the board under oath. 

At the conclusion of the hearing, each board member will vote. Your upgrade request will be granted if the majority votes in favor of the upgrade. If you are granted an upgrade, you will receive a new DD-214 as well as a copy of the board’s decision. If you are denied an upgrade, you will receive a letter from the board explaining their decision. 

If your request was denied, you can appeal the DRB’s decision to the Board of Corrections for Military Records (BCMR) using DD-Form 149. 

How Long Does the Discharge Upgrade Process Take?

The discharge upgrade process is not quick. In fact, most discharge cases take between several months to 24 months to complete. Unfortunately, even if you hire a discharge upgrade lawyer, your case will still take this long to process. This is because all boards currently have significant backlogs. Thus, while having an experienced discharge upgrade lawyer will drastically help with the presentation and persuasiveness of your case, it, unfortunately, will not speed up the process.

Is There a Time Limit to Request a Discharge Upgrade?

You should always be mindful of your discharge date. In most cases, you need to file a petition for an upgrade within 15 years of your discharge. Once your discharge turns 15 years old, your chances of obtaining an upgrade are significantly reduced since it can no longer be requested through the DRB after 15 years. After 15 years, you would need to request a “correction” to your military records through the Board of Corrections for Military Records (BCMR).  However, we can also request that the DRB waive the time limitation.

Likelihood of Discharge Upgrade Success?

Tens of thousands of discharge upgrade requests are submitted each and every year before the various DRBs. The success rates before each of the services’ DRBs are highly variable and, in most instances, fairly low. 

There are two reasons for this low success rate. First, DRBs are required by law to review applications with the presumption that the discharge was correct. It is your burden to overcome this presumption. Second, most applications are submitted either incorrectly and/or incompletely and do not fully develop and submit the issues for review (in other words, without a lawyer). For example, many applications consist of only a DD-293 plus a written statement and a few character reference letters. 

A successful application, however, consists not only of the requisite forms but also of documentary evidence and persuasive legal arguments that convince the board that a discharge upgrade is warranted. Having an experienced discharge upgrade lawyer, however, can greatly increase the likelihood of success.

Should I Hire a Discharge Upgrade Lawyer?

Hiring a discharge upgrade lawyer is a big decision. You might be wondering whether it is worth hiring a discharge upgrade lawyer at all or you might be wondering how to find the right discharge upgrade lawyer.  Importantly, discharge upgrade lawyer Jeff King has streamlined the process and his fees are among the most reasonable you will find. 

In order to determine whether it makes financial sense to hire a discharge upgrade lawyer to handle your case, you will want to consider the likelihood of being upgraded. If your chances are slim and your finances are tight, for example, it might not make sense to pursue a discharge upgrade lawyer. If, on the other hand, you have a good chance at obtaining an upgrade, and such an upgrade would help in terms of broadening future employment opportunities or increasing benefits available to you, then hiring a discharge upgrade lawyer would probably be a wise investment. 

Discharge upgrade lawyer Jeff King offers a free (no pressure) consultation specifically to help you evaluate these factors. We will properly evaluate your case and provide open and honest feedback – even if that means tell you that your chances are slim. 

That being said, if your chances of obtaining an upgrade are high and you truly wish to reduce the stigma associated with your discharge, then you should most definitely consider hiring a discharge upgrade lawyer. For the reasons discussed above, your DD-214, which contains a summary of your service and lists your discharge characterization, is quite possibly the most important document you may ever receive. Your DD-214 can benefit you substantially when you seek future education and employment. However, if your DD-214 contains negative discharge information, it can severely adversely affect your future opportunities. 

Having an experienced discharge upgrade lawyer make a persuasive, organized, and comprehensive presentation and argument to the board can mean the difference between obtaining an Honorable upgrade or obtaining no upgrade at all. A discharge upgrade lawyer will review all of the relevant records and formulate an argument on your behalf. Moreover, they will have the experience to know which types of arguments work with the board and which don’t. They also know how to persuasively present your case to the board – both in writing at and a hearing. 

Moreover, beyond merely filling out the DD-293, your discharge upgrade lawyer will request and review relevant records, gather other documentary evidence, draft an accompanying legal brief and prepare for your hearing before the board. This is a significantly time consuming process. 

Why hire Jeff?

Experience. For over 20 years, discharge upgrade lawyer Jeff King has dedicated his practice to representing military members in all branches of service. He has represented hundreds of veterans in your position and has achieved a record of success unmatched in the legal community.

His background as a trial attorney combined with his experience as a Marine judge advocate has provided him with a skill set that sets him apart from most lawyers who provide similar services. He has represented Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen at officer “show cause” hearings, administrative separation boards, and courts-martial all over the globe.

He has dedicated his practice to one simple goal: get results for the client. He treats discharge upgrade cases with the same preparation and focus as if he were preparing for trial–only now that jury consists of the DRB  board members who will review your case. 

Contact discharge upgrade lawyer Jeff King today for a free consultation.

“I was given a fair and positive outcome.”

With the type circumstance I had, it was not a hard case nor one that required a court visit or in front of a Judge but it did take some research and many hours of information gathering. I was given to the point, fair and accurate information by Jeffery King and he stuck with me through the whole ordeal. This was not only vital but very personable and I appreciated that to the fullest. I felt comfortable and positive through the entire situation and was given a fair and positive outcome. I thank Jeff King and his other staff that were involved for all they did.

“Prepared, Aggressive & Passionate about the Defense”

As the father of a recent active duty Air Force client of Mr. King’s, and being intimately involved day to day with the case, I can say without hesitation nor mental reservation, Jeff King is a consummate professional. Jeff was not only prepared, aggressive, and passionate about the defense, he also made the time to explain in detail every facet of the trial as it progressed. Having an attorney of Jeff’s caliber in our corner bestowed a feeling of confidence to our family, which was a critical factor in our ability to manage the stressfulness inherent to such serious allegations. Jeff prepared the entire family for every scenario, good and bad, and for that we are forever grateful. Upon receipt of the not guilty verdict and celebrating the obvious joy we felt that this “created adventure” had now come to an end, also came the realization that not only had he won this case, and with it our son’s continued freedom and innocence, but we had made a friend of the highest regard. Our family cannot thank Mr. King enough for his excellent representation on behalf of our son, but also for the lofty amount of integrity and humility demonstrated during the most trying time of our lives. Much respect and Semper Fi.

“Jeff is the best!”

I thought my life was over when I was accused of a horrible crime at a general court-martial. From the moment I met Jeff, he instilled confidence in my case and showed a real enthusiasm for what he does. Be warned: Jeff will put you to work! He prepares for battle and expects you to contribute. He is confident in court and I enjoyed watching the jury respond to him. In the end, I was found NOT GUILTY to all charges! I am so grateful that I hired Jeff to defend me.

“Jeff sets the standard.”

Jeff was amazing! He handled my case through the end of the Article 32 hearing, and set the basis for my acquittal. If it had been any other IO than the one it was, I am certain it would have been dismissed right then, as all the objections he made in the Article 32 were later upheld by the Military Judge, and they been upheld at the Article 32 hearing, it would have been dismissed on the spot. His knowledge, and preparation made all the difference in my case, and his relentless pursuit of the truth showed through. He will always be my first recommendation to anyone who needs legal help.

Nationwide Discharge Upgrade Lawyers

If you are looking to hire a discharge upgrade lawyer, please be advised that you do not need to hire a local lawyer. This is because this is a federal practice area. In fact, a local discharge lawyer might not have the experience and background that a nationwide discharge upgrade lawyer might have. 

Regardless of where you are located, discharge upgrade lawyer Jeff King will communicate with you through phone, email, etc. Moreover, even if your case requires an appearance before a board (not all do) our law firm does not charge an additional fee for appearing at your board. 

If you received a less-than-honorable discharge, you owe it to yourself to fight for the honorable discharge you deserve. Contact discharge upgrade lawyer Jeff King today for a free consultation at  469-415-8967

Additional “Discharge Upgrade” resources:

  1. Legal Information Institute, 10 U.S. Code Chapter 47 – Uniform Code of Military Justice,
  2. University of Virginia School of Law, Judge Advocate General FAQs,

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