The Mayer Law Blog

Preparing to Upgrade a Military Discharge

Posted November 7th, 2019 in General

Here are a few hints that will help you to be fully prepared to try and get your military discharge upgraded.

First, the process begins before you leave the military. In fact, it begins the moment you are told that you might be separated for less-than-honorable reasons.

Second, you should pay attention to everything and keep good notes about anything that seems relevant to your discharge.

Now, here are a few ways you can prepare. While we think this is a good list, it is not a substitute for legal advice, nor is it all-inclusive.

For Administrative Discharges/Administrative Separations:

  • Keep copies of everything. Awards, memos, certificates, emails–print and keep a copy of everything related to your service.
  • Ask counsel about your rights. If you can, demand an administrative separation board. Do not waive any right unless you are going to receive something of value in return.
  • Demand copies of everything related to your discharge–especially memos signed by your chain of command. You have a right to possess a copy of these.
  • Keep copies of everything. Do not assume that they will be put in your official records and stored in a safe place by the military.

For Courts-Martial

  • Demand a copy of your record of trial. This is a word-for-word transcript of everything said at your court martial and copies of all documents submitted. You are entitled to a copy. Demand it. Then, keep it somewhere safe. The government is not obligated to keep copies of it after your final appeal happens.
  • If you are convicted of anything, politely tell the judge during court that you want a copy of your entire record of trial. This normally happens in post trial and appellate rights, but a lot of service members do not pay attention to this.
  • Ask your lawyer for a copy of your post trial and appellate rights. These are always written, and you should keep a copy in a safe place.
  • READ your post trial and appellate rights. Too many service members never read this.
  • Pay attention during court-martial. You may want to zone-out during the court-martial. That’s understandable. However, you must pay attention. Take notes. Store them with your record of trial.
  • Keep copies of everything. Awards, memos, certificates, emails–print and keep a copy of everything related to your service.
  • Participate actively in all stages of trial. If you don’t, it makes others think you don’t care.
  • Do not assume that the military will keep your records in a safe place. Keep your own copy of everything.


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