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Can I Get My Dishonorable Discharge Changed to Honorable?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I received a dishonorable discharge in 1976 from the USN. I asked to be let out of the Navy because they promised me 2 years of shore duty, if I signed on to a fast-attack submarine under new construction. Having a pregnant 17-year old wife, I was very happy to be able to be there for my wife and child for the first two years.

Long story short, 2 weeks later I was out to sea! I went to JAG office and they said you can sign for a U.D. and we’ll let you out. I was barely 18 years old and VERY naive and unwise of the world. Is there any way I can get this changed to a Honorable or General Under Honorable? Thanks.

A: Not any more. The Board of Corrections has a 15-year statute of limitations as far as making any corrections. Plus, it would not help you from an education standpoint anyway, even if you did get your discharge changed.

You did not say how long you were in the Navy before you were discharged, but it didn’t sound like it was long enough to get the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB), which is generally a minimum of two years. But even that doesn’t matter as the MGIB back then had a 14-year delimiting date, which means it expired 14 years from your date of discharge.

It sounds like you were promised one thing and got another, which I agree was not right, however, at this point 34 years later, there isn’t much that can be done to correct it.

As a word of advice to young military members, always get it in writing. Otherwise, you don’t have a leg to stand on and it ends up being your word against someone elses.

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