What Every Veterans Advocate Needs to Know About Discharge Upgrades and VA Character of Discharge Determinations (VSO)

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Presenters: David Sonenshine and Kristin Smith

Length: 110 minutes

Recorded: September 2020


Webinar Description:

Former service members who received a less than honorable discharge carry a stigma that may affect many aspects of their lives. They might have difficulty finding employment or being accepted into schools. They might be burdened with shame that affects their mental health. They might even be barred from receiving VA benefits. There are, however, avenues available for individuals to try to change the characterization of their discharge. It is essential for veterans advocates to understand the impact of a negative discharge characterization on a person’s eligibility for VA benefits and the options a person has for trying to change that characterization.
This webinar will provide helpful information about the three forums through which a former service member can seek relief to ensure that a less than honorable discharge will not bar entitlement to VA benefits— Discharge Review Boards, Boards for Correction of Military or Naval Records, and VA character of discharge determinations. It will also provide advocacy advice for successfully navigating an individual through each of these forums.

This 90-minute webinar will cover:
• The different military discharge characterizations
• A debunking of common myths about discharge upgrades
• An overview of the process for obtaining discharge upgrades through Discharge Review Boards and Boards for Correction of Military or Naval Records
• Advice for choosing the proper forum when seeking a discharge upgrade
• Tips for preparing a successful discharge upgrade application
• Common arguments that can support a discharge upgrade, including for cases involving homosexuality and the military’s former Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy; military sexual trauma; and
mental health conditions, such as posttraumatic stress disorder
• Options after a denial of a discharge upgrade
• VA character of discharge determinations
• And much more!