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Is It Possible to Upgrade My Discharge to Honorable So That I Can Get the GI Bill?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I was wondering if I was eligible for the GI Bill. I have a General Under Honorable Conditions discharge from the Army. The list that I got from the military with the list of things that I’m eligible for said that I was able to get that. So is there any way that is possible to go to the VA and talk to them about it? Or is there a way that I’m able to upgrade my discharge to Honorable so that I can get the GI Bill?

A: The list you received that shows you are eligible for the GI Bill is not wrong – you are eligible for it, however, with a General Under Honorable Conditions discharge, you just can’t use your educational GI Bill benefits. So about your only option is to request an upgrade of your General up to a fully Honorable.

If you have been out less than 15 years, then submit DD Form 293 to the Army Discharge Review Board. Be sure to include all documentation to support your upgrade request. Keep in mind the Board is going into the hearing thinking you were awarded the correct discharge. It is your job to convince them it is not the correct one.

I don’t want to discourage you, but I do want you to know what you are going up against. For the Army, only 41% of the requests are approved.

There are two ways you can present your case – either with a paper board or personal appearance. The paper board is the least successful. Personal appearances either by you, your legal counsel or both, have the best chance of success, although if you do hire a lawyer, you have to pay all legal fees yourself, even if you win. If you do hire a lawyer, be sure to get one skilled in military discharge upgrade representation.

If your discharge is upgraded, then you will be able to use your GI Bill benefits to go to school. If not, and you want to appeal it further, then submit DD Form 149 to the Army Board of Corrections of Military Records. The findings of this Board are final as it is the end of the appeal process.

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