* This site is privately owned and is not affiliated or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other government agency.

Discharge Upgrades


Discharge upgrades refer to an improvement in the characterization of a military veteran’s discharge status. Veterans may seek this change to access additional benefits, such as education, healthcare, and disability. The upgrade is typically achieved through a formal application process presented to a Discharge Review Board or Military Board of Correction.

Key Takeaways

  1. A discharge upgrade refers to the process of changing a veteran’s military discharge status to a more favorable one, which can increase their eligibility for VA benefits.
  2. Upgrading a discharge requires the submission of an official application to the Discharge Review Board or the Board for Correction of Military Records. The veteran needs to provide evidence or new information supporting their case for an upgrade.
  3. Discharge upgrades can be difficult to obtain as the burden of proof lies with the veteran. Legal assistance, as well as clear and compelling documentation, can significantly improve the chances of a successful outcome.


The term “Discharge Upgrades” is important in relation to VA benefits as it refers to the process of modifying a veteran’s military discharge status, which can significantly impact their eligibility for various benefits and assistance.

Some veterans may have received an unfavorable discharge status (e.g., other than honorable) due to reasons like misconduct, medical issues, or administrative errors during their service.

By seeking a discharge upgrade, veterans can potentially acquire a more favorable discharge status, and in turn, become eligible to access essential VA benefits such as healthcare, education, vocational rehabilitation, and housing assistance.

Therefore, understanding and pursuing discharge upgrades is crucial for veterans striving to improve their quality of life and access the benefits they rightfully deserve.


Discharge Upgrades serve a critical purpose in ensuring that former military personnel can access their rightful benefits and entitlements. The primary purpose of Discharge Upgrades is to amend or modify a veteran’s military record to accurately reflect their service period and circumstances surrounding their separation from the military.

This process allows eligible veterans to be granted an improved characterization of service, allowing them to gain access to resources and support they may have been previously denied due to the nature of their discharge. This could range from health care and disability benefits to education or home loans under the GI Bill.

In addition to providing access to essential resources, Discharge Upgrades also work to restore a veteran’s reputation and dignity, by recognizing and correcting any unjust discharges or characterizations that do not align with their service’s conduct or values. This can particularly impact those who may have faced discriminatory practices or were misunderstood during their time in service.

Discharge Upgrades ultimately foster a more equitable and supportive environment for all veterans, thereby promoting a smoother transition back into civilian life and encouraging them to reach their full potential.

Examples of Discharge Upgrades

A Discharge Upgrade refers to the process by which a military veteran can apply to have their discharge status improved, thus making them eligible for more VA benefits. The most common types of discharges that may be upgraded are General (Under Honorable Conditions) and Other Than Honorable. Here are three real-world examples:

Example 1: A veteran who served in the military and received a General (Under Honorable Conditions) discharge due to minor misconduct, such as being late to formations or failing room inspections, may apply for a Discharge Upgrade. If the veteran can demonstrate that their service and accomplishments outweigh the misconduct, they may be granted an upgrade to an Honorable discharge, providing access to more VA benefits and services.

Example 2: A veteran who received an Other Than Honorable discharge after testing positive for drug use during their service may apply for a Discharge Upgrade. If the veteran can show that they have since completed a drug rehabilitation program and have made significant positive changes in their life, a Discharge Review Board may consider upgrading their discharge status, making them eligible for certain VA benefits.

Example 3: A veteran who was discharged from military service with an Other Than Honorable discharge due to misconduct related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) incurred during their service may request a Discharge Upgrade. If the veteran can provide evidence that their misconduct was directly connected to their PTSD, the Discharge Review Board may take this into consideration and grant an upgrade, resulting in increased access to VA benefits and services like healthcare and education programs.

FAQ: Discharge Upgrades

What is a Discharge Upgrade?

A Discharge Upgrade is a process where a veteran challenges the nature of their discharge from the military in order to become eligible for veteran benefits, services, and programs. Upgrading a discharge can potentially improve a veteran’s opportunities for employment, education, and eligibility for VA benefits.

Who is eligible to apply for a Discharge Upgrade?

Veterans who were discharged under conditions other than honorable, general, or honorable can apply for a Discharge Upgrade. However, those with a dishonorable discharge are not eligible for upgrades.

How do I apply for a Discharge Upgrade?

To apply for a Discharge Upgrade, you need to submit a DD Form 293 (Application for the Review of Discharge from the Armed Forces of the United States) to your respective military department’s Discharge Review Board (DRB). You can also submit an appeal to the Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR) if your DRB application was denied.

What are the factors considered in a Discharge Upgrade request?

The Discharge Review Board (DRB) or the Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR) considers factors like inequity, propriety, length of service, disciplinary records, character references, and the petitioner’s post-service conduct when reviewing a Discharge Upgrade request. Additionally, they also consider medical and mental health information related to the veteran’s service.

How long does it take to receive a decision on my Discharge Upgrade request?

The processing time for a Discharge Upgrade request varies depending on the complexity of the case and the workload of the DRB or BCMR. In general, it can take several months to over a year to receive a decision.

Can I appeal a denied Discharge Upgrade request?

Yes, if your Discharge Upgrade request has been denied by the Discharge Review Board (DRB), you can submit an appeal to the Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR). You may also seek legal assistance or a qualified representative to help with the process.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Military Discharge Review Boards
  • Character of Service Determination
  • DD-214 Revisions
  • Upgraded Disability Benefits
  • Veterans Appeals Process

Sources for More Information