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How Can I Prove I Received an Honorable Discharge?

Q: I was in the Army and reenlisted 3 years into my 4-year contract for an additional 5 years. I was honorably discharged in Iraq for a few seconds to reenlist. I got back from my third tour to Iraq and I was over the weight standards. After a year of trying to lose the weight I was separated 1 year and 11 months into my SECOND enlistment. I was given a general under honorable conditions discharge, but it was for both enlistments. I don’t understand why my DD-214 doesn’t show 2 separate periods of enlistment. The first “honorable” and the second “under honorable conditions”. How can I prove to the VA that I have an fully honorable discharge for my first term if my DD214 doesn’t show it. Should I bring my reenlistment papers?

A: The problem is you did not have two enlistments – you had one enlistment and one re-enlistment; there is a big difference between the two. To have two enlistments, you would have needed at a one-day break in service between the two terms of service, which it sounds like you did not have.

With you saying you were “honorably discharged in Iraq for a few seconds to reenlist” sounds like you were manipulated, because a service does not discharge you when you re-enlist. They put you into whatever status they needed to for your re-enlistment to get approved, but it was not a discharge. Think about it – why would they discharge you when you were 3 years into your 4-year enlistment? If they discharged you, you would have needed a whole new enlistment contract and not re-enlistment papers.

Showing the VA a copy of your re-enlistment papers won’t accomplish anything as your re-enlistment has nothing to do with your discharge – the Army discharged you because of your failure to comply with AR 600-9. Unfortunately, your discharge status prevents you from using the GI Bill.

Your best bet now is to file a discharge appeal with the Army Board of Corrections explaining what happened and that you were duped into believing you were honorably discharged when in fact you were not. Good luck.

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