If you have bad paper in your official military records, you can ask your service to remove the record, correct the record or take other action that you desire. Each branch of service has a board that reviews applications by active duty, reserve and former service members who want action taken on their records. These boards are referred to as the Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR). You will have to show the BCMR that the documents in your records are due to an error or injustice caused by the military. The BCMR will review your application and take corrective action if you provide evidence of the error or injustice.
For example, you may request the removal of nonjudicial punishment in your records that you believe was unjust. You may also request a correction to an officer performance report that has derogatory comments–again due to some error or injustice by your service. You can also request that your DD 214 be corrected to reflect an honorable discharge as opposed to an under other than honorable conditions discharge.
If you were discharged from the service with an other than fully honorable discharge, you will first request an upgrade to your discharge by submitting an application to the Discharge Review Board (DRB) for your service. You must do this within 15 years from the discharge. However, if more than 15 years has passed, you still have a way to correct the error–by applying to the BCMR for your service.
While the BCMR requires that you apply for relief within three years since you discovered the error or injustice–the BCMR will consider your application if the board believes that it is in the interest of justice to do so.
There are many veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan who are also suffering from PTSD or TBI-related injuries. Some veterans encountered difficulties after returning from their deployments and were punished by their commands for misconduct. If your misconduct was caused by PTSD or TBI-related injuries and you were then discharged from your service–you may be able to upgrade your discharge if there is a nexus between your medical condition and the misconduct.
If you have any document in your official records that should not be there, you deserve a chance to correct the error. Some veterans want to correct their records on principle, to be sure their records accurately reflect their service. Others want to correct their records because the bad paper is negatively affecting their career and life. No matter what, don’t despair. There is always hope as long as you take action. It is never too late to right the wrongs. The Department of Defense and your Service gives you a chance to show them how you were wronged. You have this one last chance by applying to the Supreme Court for all administrative reviews within each service–the BCMR. Injustice is difficult. But you can correct injustice by taking action. Never give up. Never.
Ferah Ozbek is a retired from the U.S. Air Force where she served as an active duty judge advocate for over 20 years. She continues to practice military law and represents military members and veterans who are facing injustice. To learn more about how Ferah can help you, you can send her an e-mail at [email protected] or direct message her on LinkedIn. Visit Ferah’s website at ferahozbek.com