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Types of Military Discharges

Instructor: Jessica Mercado

I completed my BA in Criminal Justice in 2015. Currently working on my MS in Homeland Security Management.

This lesson encompasses the types of military discharges, example scenarios, and which discharges are eligible for veteran benefits. This lesson provides a real case example to further understanding on the topic.

Knowing the Different Types of Military Discharges

Military discharge can range from general to dishonorable. The discharges are not black and white, and extreme circumstances can play a huge role in the type of discharge someone gets to the benefits they receive later on.

Administrative Discharge

General Discharge A military member will receive a general discharge if they had good performance levels throughout their career, but they did not meet the obligations required of them by a certain period of time. While the military member may not have met the criteria expected of them, their discharge would be considered honorable. Reasoning behind the discharge must be stated clearly during the discharge process. The military member must also acknowledge that they understand the reasoning behind the discharge and accept the terms for it occurring before the process can be complete. An example of this type of discharge would be a service member who does not meet the time quota for picking up an E6 rank in the duration of their military service. Since they did not meet the quota, the military will discharge them under honorable conditions.

Other Than Honorable Conditions Discharge In comparison to the other administrative discharges, this one has undesirable consequences. If a military member receives this discharge, their actions were found unacceptable in relation to military representation. Unlike the other administrative discharges, once a military member receives this discharge, they lose the right to reenlist in any branch of the military. They will also not become eligible for any military benefits, unless under extreme circumstances. Some examples of this type of discharge would be: security violations, use of violence, receiving a civilian sentencing that includes jail time, or adultery during divorce proceedings. Another example could be a military member disrespecting his superiors, to the extent that he/her has lost all chances to fix the situation, or threatening violence against others.

Entry Level Separation (ELS) This discharge is given to military members who have been in service less than 180 days. This type of discharge does not reflect poorly on the military member, but it can prevent military members from claiming veteran status and obtaining benefits. An example of this would be a military member injuring his leg during boot camp exercises. He would be medically discharged, if the wound was serious enough.

Punitive Discharges

A punitive discharge,is when a service member has been given a court-martial.

Bad Conduct Discharge (BCD) is when a service member is convicted and then given the BCD as further punishment. The service member will typically serve time in a military prison and forfeit all veteran benefits. An example of this type of discharge would be a service member committing robbery or selling illegal drugs.

Dishonorable Discharge (DD) If the court martial determines the service member's acts severe, then they will proceed with the DD. Once a military member is dishonorably discharged, they lose the right to own any type of firearm. This discharge also prevents the military member from becoming eligible for any veteran benefits. The military member may find that they will struggle with obtaining a job in the civilian world due to the DD. Some examples of this discharge would be sexual assault, murder, AWOL, and plans to overthrow the government. A Marine that commits murder would receive a discharge that is dishonorable.

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