You Can Make A Difference
As military conflicts persist, the impacts of these events on veterans and their families continue to rise. Whether you provide child care, health care, mental health services, or family support to veterans, you play a crucial role in helping this growing population heal and thrive.
The Challenges To Adequate Care
Fears about how these injuries will be perceived by employers often prevent warriors from seeking help. Those who do seek help run into barriers in the system like:
- – Inadequate care
- – Misdiagnosis or under-diagnosis
- – Undetected or unreported issues
- – A shortage of providers
- – Incomplete and inaccurate information
- – Inaccessible benefits
Learn more about the Rand study assessing these issues.
What You Can Do
You can take part in the efforts being made to address these challenges in a number of ways.
Get trained: Learn specific tools for supporting wounded warriors. Find an upcoming training event.
Stay current: The research on combat stress continues. Read up on the latest clinical practice guidelines for:
- Concussion and mild traumatic brain injury
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Be ready with resources: You can serve as a source of good information.
- – Courage to Care Courage to Talk – This campaign is an educational campaign for hospitals and healthcare sites developed by the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress (CSTS). The goal is to facilitate and improve communication about war injuries between healthcare providers and families, as well as within the family itself, particularly when talking with children. The campaign seeks to connect families to resources and providers in the hospital environment who can answer their questions, talk with them about their children, or address other family or communication concerns related to the injury. Brochures, posters & fact sheets at: www.couragetotalk.org.
- – Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents (PDF)
- – Mesotheliama & Veterans at abestos.com/veterans is an organization devoted to assisting veterans through their application processes for VA benefits, and helping them obtain the maximum benefits for which they are entitled. Countless veterans are currently suffering from life-threatening illnesses that are a result of exposure to asbestos, a material that was commonly used in hundreds of military applications, products, and ships because of its resistance to fire.The Mesothelioma Center provides a complete list of occupations, ships, and shipyards that could have put our Veterans at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases.
- – The Caregiver Support Line has licensed clinical social workers available to answer questions, listen to concerns and directly link callers to the Caregiver Support Coordinator at their local VA Medical Center: 1-855-260-3274
Applying for a Discharge Upgrade
For veterans who have served in uniform and received a less than honorable discharge, the impact on their post-service lives can be dramatic. While the process is not simple and the results not guaranteed, there is a way to appeal the discharge classification.
All veterans are eligible to apply to the Discharge Review Board for an upgrade of their discharge characterization or a change of the reason given for their discharge. To receive a discharge upgrade or a change in the discharge reason, an individual must prove to the appropriate Discharge Review Board that his or her discharge reason or characterization was “inequitable” or “improper.”
Inequitable means the reason or characterization of the discharge is not consistent with the policies and traditions of the service. Improper means that the reason or characterization of the discharge is in error (i.e., is false, or violates a regulation or law).
Defense Review Boards by Service
The Army, Air Force and Coast Guard have separate boards. The Navy operates the board for both Navy personnel and members of the Marine Corps. While the boards differ, they all follow statutory and regulatory mandates. The links below provide specific information about the Defense Review Board for each service.
How to Apply
The Discharge Review Board application, DD Form 293 [PDF], is available online. In addition, the application is available at most Department of Defense installations and regional offices of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Complete the form carefully by either typing or printing the requested information. Attach copies of statements or records that are relevant to your case. You may submit the application online or mail the completed application to the appropriate address listed in the following table:
- – ARMY
Army Review Boards Agency, Support Division, St. Louis
ATTN: SFMR-RBR-SL, 9700 Page Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri 63132-5200
- – NAVY/ MARINE CORPS
Naval Council of Personnel Boards, 720 Kennon Street, S.E., Rm 309 (NDRB), Washington Navy Yard, D.C. 20374-5023
- – AIR FORCE
SAF/MIBR, 550-C Street West, Suite 40, Randolph AFB, Texas 78150-4742
- – COAST GUARD
Commandant (G-WPM), 2100 Second Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20593-0001
When To Apply
By law, you must submit your application for discharge upgrade within 15 years of discharge. If your discharge is older than 15 years, you must apply for a change to your military records.
How To Support Your Request
The Discharge Review Board will upgrade your discharge only if you prove that your discharge is inequitable or improper. To offer proof, you need to provide evidence, such as signed statements from you and other witnesses or copies of records that support your case. Your own statement is important. Put your statement in clear terms in section 8 of the DD Form 293. Explain what happened and why it is an inequity or improper. Statements from people who have direct knowledge or involvement carry more weight. For example, statements from people in your rating chain, your supervisor, first sergeant or commander.
In cases where the veteran believes post-traumatic stress disorder or another psychological health issue led to conduct resulting in the less than honorable discharge, it is important that the argument is supported with a properly worded medical opinion. When appropriate, the medical opinion needs to explain the cause and effect of combat leading to stress severe enough to lead to the misconduct.
You will also need to obtain and submit your military records. VA can provide assistance in obtaining military records for veterans to support their claim for discharge upgrade.
Personal Appearances Before the Discharge Review Board
You may request a personal appearance before the Discharge Review Board by checking the appropriate box on DD Form 293, item 4. If you request a hearing, the Discharge Review Board will notify you as to time, date and location (usually Washington, D.C.). Expenses incurred will not be reimbursed.
The Discharge Review Board is usually composed of five active duty officers and senior enlisted personnel. They each cast one vote and the majority rules. In regard to testimony, you have the right to remain silent, give sworn testimony or give unsworn testimony. The hearing normally takes less than an hour, but the board will take whatever time is necessary to hear your case.
Discharge Review Board’s Decision
It will generally take six to eight weeks for you to receive the Discharge Review Board’s decision. If your discharge is changed, you will receive a new discharge certificate, a new DD Form 214 and the decisional document of the Discharge Review Board. If your discharge is not changed, you will receive the decisional document of the Discharge Review Board, which will include the specific reasons your discharge was not changed and will include any further appeal process, which is applicable to you.
- – DoD Instruction 1332.28, “ Discharge Review Board (DRB) Procedures and Standards” [PDF]
- – DD Form 293, Application for the Review of Discharge from the Armed Forces of the United States [PDF]
- – Department of Veterans Affairs, Appeal to Board of Veterans’ Appeals [PDF]
- – Department of Veterans Affairs, FAQs for Returning Service Members (OEF/OIF)
- – American Legion, Guide to Filing Military Discharge Review Board and Board for Correction of Military Records Applications[PDF]