New Guidance for Discharges Based on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI); sexual assault; or sexual harassment
New guidance from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, dated 25 August 2017 clarifies some misconceptions regarding modifying veterans’ discharges.
The Department of Defense (DoD) knows that bad things happen to good people and you may not have to suffer the consequences. DoD also knows that “invisible wounds” are the most difficult cases they review.
The Department of Defense stated that a veteran’s misconduct may be due to a “mental health condition, including PTSD, TBI or behavior consistent with experiencing sexual assault or sexual harassment.”
- New Guidance is for veterans who request modification of discharge due to mental health conditions, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI); sexual assault; or sexual harassment.
- DoD guidance states: “Mental Health conditions, including PTSD; TBI; sexual assault; and sexual harassment impact veterans in many intimate ways, are often undiagnosed or diagnosed years afterwards and are frequently unreported.
- Guidance is for Discharge Review Boards (DRB) and Boards for Correction of Military Records (BCMR).
- Liberal consideration for veterans’ petitions for discharge relief when application is based upon matters listed above.
- “Evidence may come from sources other than veteran’s service record” such as mental health counseling centers, statements from family members, friends, roommates, co-workers, clergy or fellow service members.
The request for discharge modification involve four questions as cited by the DoD
- Did the Veteran have a condition or experience that may excuse or mitigate the discharge?
- Did that condition exist/experience occur during military service?
- Does that condition or experience actually excuse or mitigate the discharge?
- Does that condition or experience outweigh the discharge?
This guidance applies to DRBs and BCMRs with regard to de novo reconsideration (consideration as if for the first time)–of petitions that were previously considered and denied without the benefit of the new guidance. This means you can apply for reconsideration.
This new guidance does not mean upgrade or relief is automatic, but may be appropriate depending upon the facts and circumstances of your case. If you believe this new clarifying guidance applies to you, you should speak to an attorney who knows how to fight and correct the injustice. After serving your country honorably, you should not be penalized for “misconduct” that may be mitigated due to a mental health condition that occurred during your military service and which outweighs your discharge.
Ferah Ozbek is a retired USAF Judge Advocate who uses her 25+ years of experience and insight as a former military attorney (retired colonel) to develop the best strategies to represent her clients. As a former Senior Legal Advisor and voting member to the Secretary of the Personnel Council’s Discharge Review Board, she reviewed hundreds of applications by service members and knows what the military looks at when deciding whether your discharge should be upgraded.
To learn more about how Ferah Ozbek and how she can help you correct the wrongs and seek justice, contact her at [email protected] or go to her website, ferahozbek.com