Honorable Discharge Benefits: Serving Those Who Served

U.S. military personnel risk everything to serve their country. In return, they receive useful benefits. If you have served honorably or received an honorable discharge, you may be eligible for many valuable benefits after separating from military service.

There are a variety of military discharge classifications, and each comes with its respective benefits or lack of benefits. These benefits help active duty service members and vets alike, but the type of discharge received can limit benefit eligibility. If you receive an honorable discharge, you’ll find the greatest number of options open for you to receive through veteran assistance programs.

Veteran assistance programs are there to help provide veterans with financial, healthcare, and overall wellness stability. Understanding which one best suits you is key so that there aren’t any surprises down the road!

Honorable Discharge Benefits 

Some people may be aware of the honorable discharge or even the “less than honorable” discharge conditions. But did you know that there are many more types of military discharges? When a person is discharged from their duties in the military, they can receive an honorably discharged certificate.

This honorably discharged paperwork is for services performed with loyalty and distinction. However, you can receive a “less than honorable” discharge if someone commits serious misconduct such as desertion or absence without leave. 

Other Types of Military Discharges

Other times military personnel can be discharged from the military because of a particular medical condition or mental health illness. While not often used, there are other types of military discharges that military administration determines. The military administration discharges include but are not limited to:

  • Entry-level separation
  • Separation for the Convenience of the Government

The VA benefits you receive depend on your type of discharge from active duty or reserve status with the US Military. It is also based on how much time was served and what branch the service falls under.

A Level 1 Honorable Discharge means receiving veterans’ rights and compensation such as disability pay and medical care through Veterans Administration hospitals.

In contrast, those who are actually punished get discharged at level 4 without full entitlement.

VA Benefits

The military operates on a system of three types of administrative discharges. These include an honorable discharge, general discharge, and other than honorable (OTH) discharge. Each one has its own set of benefits available or not available at the endpoint in a person’s armed forces service term.

An OTH is seen as something less desirable because it does not come with any retirement or disability pay after you separate from the military.

VA Benefits Upon An Honorable Discharge

An honorable discharge provides veterans with a way to receive full benefits. The full benefits may include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Retirement pay once you exit military service
  • Home loan assistance
  • VA medical benefits
  • Education benefits
  • Family and caregiver support
  • Employment assistance
  • Transition assistance
  • Homeless Housing assistance
  • Vocational training

An honorable discharge can also provide veterans with a hiring preference for applying for federal jobs.

Various Conditions

The military is a complicated world with different types of discharge, all of which have their own set of benefits. One such type of discharge is when the person gets discharged as punishment for some wrongdoing. Another discharge may consist of a reason that the military doesn’t want anyone to find out about.

Such discharges are secret and can be used in espionage cases where it’s necessary for someone to leave without notice. That means others will never know who did what and why.

Bad Conduct and Dishonorable Discharges

Punitive discharges, or discharges served as punishment include, but aren’t limited to;

  • Bad Conduct Discharge,
  • Dishonorable Discharge
  • Officer Dismissals

Each of the above has a discharge process from the military that isn’t evaluated until you submit your VA benefits claim for evaluation. This is done by both an interviewer and a medical specialist. Sometimes you have to become your greatest advocate when it comes time to access health care through VA facilities.

“Bad Paper” or Other Than Honorable Discharge

You can also be discharged because you failed to comply with military regulations, orders, or duties. In addition, based on failing to comply with regulations, you may be given another than honorable discharge. This type of discharge is sometimes called “bad paper.”

Some Reasons for a Bad Paper Discharge

Trouble with military or civilian authorities, drug issues,and violent behavior are all potential grounds for a bad paper discharge. This type of discharge does not require a court-martial, but it should be regarded as a barrier to future military service.

You can also be given a bad paper discharge if you want to request a release from service as an alien during a period of hostilities.

Character of Discharge

In order to start the transition into civilian life, many veterans are required to disclose their discharge type on form DD-214. This is important because any future employers can screen your character based on a person’s military background. The employer will then determine if you’ll have any benefits as an ex veteran or even be able to reenlist in some cases.

There are seven square check-off blocks on the DD-214 Character of Discharge long form.

The Seven Characters of Separation 

The seven characters of separation for discharge from the military are: 

  • The type of separation
  • The character of service when you separated or were discharged
  • The separation authority which lists the Army/Navy/Air Force/Marines and Coast Guard regulation citation
  • The separation code explains why you received the noted regulation citation under separation authority
  • Every branch of the service has a code for enlisted eligibility for reentry
  • When you separate from the military, they will include the narrative reason why (i.e., hardship, disability, etc.)
  • The form will include the dates of any time you lost during your military service.

Every military member is provided with a copy of the DD Form 214, and if you’re not given a copy, you can request one and keep it in a safe and secure location. 

VA Decisions are Binding

The term “discharged” has many meanings in life outside of the armed forces. Each meaning applies to members of the veterans of the United States Armed Forces, with the VA decision being binding. The VA’s binding decision determines what benefits a veteran is eligible to receive.

So how you discharge via the discharge determination is very important.

How Are VA Discharge Determinations Made? 

The character of discharge determination is part of the facts and circumstances surrounding your discharge. The VA often submits a request to receive this verification. Verification of the veteran’s individual character of discharge goes to the veteran and the appropriate military service department.

The VA will ask for any evidence or statements regarding the discharge. The VA reviews the discharge records to determine discharge status. This is an administrative decision that directly impacts the veteran’s ability to receive VA benefits. The impact will be positive or negative based on the VA’s decision.

Some benefit decisions may depend on whether or not the veteran’s first period of service would have ended in a good paper. If the veteran received a DD-214 in place of a conditional discharge, sometimes they are still eligible for some VA benefits.  

Appeals Process

Every person who is seeking honorable discharge with their associated benefits has a place to file an appeal if they disagree with a VA decision. The appeal is for reconsideration of re-classification based on their military service record. That means the VA reviews the issues or incidents which affected the discharge status.

If a veteran appeals their discharge status, the VA reviews what the veteran did in the service according to the regulatory and statutory standards and then decides your discharge upgrade. The review corresponds directly with the veteran’s military service record.

When there is no statutory bar to benefits, the VA can also consider any mitigating or special circumstances that either were the direct cause or contributed to the veteran’s discharge. That’s when any mitigating circumstances of your discharge are vital for the VA to consider when determining your benefits.

Honorable Discharge Benefits

When a person serves their country through the military, they may qualify for benefits once their service is complete. Honorable discharge is the highest level discharge a veteran can receive, and it entitles the veteran to the full range of benefits the Veterans Administration provides.

There are other types of discharges, and the benefits those discharges carry can vary significantly. If you’re a veteran and you have questions about your discharge and benefits, contact the VA for more information.

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