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Each service branch has a Board for Correction of Military Records established to correct errors and remove injustices from the official military records of service members. Such records may include, but are not limited to, records regarding discharges, reenlistment codes, disciplinary matters, performance evaluations, selection for promotion, advancement, retirement, dates of service, disability ratings, medals, and various bonuses and benefits. The BCMRs, established under 10 U.S.C. 1552 and listed below, are the highest levels of administrative review within their respective departments:
Who is eligible to apply?
Current and former members of the United States Military (including Reserve personnel) may apply for a correction of an error or removal of an injustice in their official military record. If a former service member is deceased or incompetent, the member’s spouse, widow or widower, next of kin (parent, sibling, or child), or legal representative can apply for the service member. Applicants must first exhaust available administrative avenues of relief before applying to a BCMR.
How do you apply?
To apply, applicants must submit a completed DD149 form containing the veteran’s personal information, requested correction, justification for the request, and date and time when the alleged error or injustice was discovered, among other information. Applicants may attach as evidence documents in support of their application.
The burden of proof to show either an error or injustice rests with the applicant. Absent evidence to the contrary, the BCMRs will presume presume that the military record was appropriate and in compliance with service regulations. Applicants can request a personal appearance before the Boards, but are not entitled to a hearing.
Is there any risk to applying?
No, the BCMRs cannot make anything worse in an applicant’s service record, only better.
How long does it take?
The BCMRs process thousands of applications a year. As a result, an applicant should expect to wait as long as 18 months before the board considers their case. This wait can, however, vary between the service branches.
What is liberal consideration?
On September 3, 2014, the Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum providing guidance to the BCMRs as it considers petitions brought by veterans claiming Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with other than honorable conditions discharge. This includes a comprehensive review of all materials and evidence provided by the applicant.
This policy was issued to make the application process easier for veterans seeking redress and assists the Boards in reaching fair and consistent results in these cases. The guidance also mandates liberal waivers of time limits, ensures timely consideration of petitions, and allows for increased involvement of medical personnel in Board determinations. Liberal consideration also applies to request by veterans for a discharge upgrade due to mental health conditions (including Traumatic Brain Injury), sexual assault, or sexual harassment.
What if I was discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?
On September 20, 2011, the Under Secretary of Defense issued a policy addressing how service boards of correction should review applications to correction of records of individuals discharged under DADT or a similar policy in place prior to DADT. Boards were directed to normally grant requests to change narrative reasons of discharge, characterization of discharges, and re-entry codes of individuals provided the following two conditions are met:
The policy directs that an honorable or general discharge should be considered absent aggravating factors.
Contact us Today
MJA has successfully represented active duty service members and veterans before Boards for Correction of Military Records. Our skilled attorneys can comb through your military record and build the strongest case possible for your BCMR review. Call us today for a free consultation.