On Demand

Discharge Upgrade Applications for Post-9/11 Veterans at Discharge Review Boards

1h 1m

Created on November 12, 2019




A veteran's chances to receive a military discharge upgrade are better than they have been in decades. However, rigorous advocacy is still often needed to obtain relief.  Far too many veterans get less-than-honorable discharges because of acts of misconduct that are actually symptoms of invisible wounds: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). A Government Accountability Office study showed that the majority of misconduct discharges in recent years are for Post-9/11 veterans who have already been diagnosed with PTSD and/or TBI. These discharges, known as "bad paper," then prevent veterans from accessing the VA and healing. Plainly put, these veterans have been cut off from care because of the very conditions they need treated. The effects can be devastating. Studies reveal that the suicide rate for veterans with involuntary misconduct discharges is nearly three times that of other veterans. A bad discharge is also the second highest predictor of homelessness among veterans. 

Coco Culhane, founder and director of the Veteran Advocacy Project at the Urban Justice Center, will dive into the arguments for relief with the Department of Defense Discharge Review Boards (DRBs), reviewing the statutes and regulations that govern an application to this type of board. Culhane will also cover who can apply to this board, grounds for relief, how to structure a brief, and best practices for working with your client when trauma is at the heart of an application.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify grounds for discharge upgrade applications in DRB regulations and instructions
  2. Review application-brief structure and potential evidentiary materials
  3. Develop best practices for a trauma-informed approach to working with veteran clients

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