Military Benefits After Discharge

Military Benefits After Discharge

Soldiers receive a discharge when they have completed all obligations under their service contract and leave the Army. There are five general types of discharges a soldier can receive:

  • Honorable
  • General, Under Honorable Conditions
  • Under Other than Honorable Conditions
  • Bad Conduct
  • Dishonorable

Administrative Discharge

Among the five types of discharges, soldiers are eligible for the first three options when administratively discharged. According to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, only a special or general court-martial conviction will lead to a conviction on the last two charges. Discharges have varying meanings and can adversely affect veterans’ eligibility for military benefits after discharge.

Honorable Discharge

When members of the military complete their tour of duty and their performance meets or exceeds the appropriate standards of duty performance and personal conduct, they usually receive an Honorable Discharge. A soldier, however, can receive an Honorable Discharge, provided that the discharge is not the result of misconduct in certain circumstances. After discharge, the full range of military benefits after discharge is usually available to soldiers who receive an Honorable Discharge.

General Under Honorable Discharge

Typically, a General Under Honorable Discharge, also known as a General Discharge, is awarded to service members when their conduct and performance of duty did not merit an Honorable Discharge. A general discharge recipient has usually been punished non-judicially under Article 15 of the UCMJ or engaged in minor misconduct. 

Veterans who received a General Discharge will be entitled to health care, dental services, VA home loans, and other military benefits after discharge. They will not be entitled to educational benefits under either the Montgomery or Post-9/11 GI Bills. Not receiving an Honorable Discharge can affect your job search or college application process.

Under Other than Honorable Conditions

An “Under Other Than Honorable Conditions” discharge is a form of administrative discharge. The least favorable form of administrative discharge is an “Under Other Than Honorable Conditions” discharge. Among the reasons for an OTH Discharge are behavior patterns that deviate from the conduct of soldiers of the Army. Examples of these behaviors include violent behavior, illegal drug use, or disrespect for normal superior-subordinate relationships.

When a soldier receives an OTH Discharge, they are generally prohibited from joining another component of the armed forces. Soldiers who receive an OTH discharge are ineligible for most military benefits after discharge, including those from the VA and other agencies. Under Army Regulation 600-8-19, enlisted soldiers discharged on OTH are automatically demoted to the grade of E-1.

Punitive Discharge

Unlike administrative discharges, a soldier can only receive a punitive discharge if they commit certain types of offenses, and the court-martial determines that discharge is the appropriate punishment. Soldiers receiving punitive discharges will face more severe post-service consequences than those receiving administrative discharges.

Bad Conduct and Dishonorable Discharges

Dishonorable discharges and bad conduct rob a soldier of virtually all the military benefits after discharge. As a result of either type of punitive discharge, a discharged soldier’s job prospects, schooling prospects, economic prospects, and social acceptance will be adversely affected. A Dishonorable Discharge, which a General Court-Martial can only grant, is reserved for soldiers who have been convicted of serious offenses of civil or military nature and should be separated under conditions of dishonor.

The court-martial cannot grant commissioned officers a Bad Conduct or Dishonorable Discharge. When a General Court-Martial convicts an officer, she can be sentenced to a “Dismissal.” A Dismissal is functionally equivalent to a Dishonorable Discharge.

Importance Of Conduct

Whether it’s good or bad, a soldier’s behavior in the Army can follow them throughout their lives. An adverse discharge can affect post-service educational and employment prospects, making it imperative for soldiers to discharge honorably. It is essential to obtain an Honorable Discharge to preserve your earned benefits and improve employment opportunities after discharge. Discharges of any kind could result in serious consequences.

Impact Of Discharge Status On VA Benefits

Veterans who received discharges less than honorable are excluded from the Veterans Affairs benefits. The VA would obtain the veteran’s status if the former service member were discharged for reasons other than dishonorable. This process is known as Character of Discharge determination by the VA.

Discharges administered by the Army must be distinguished from discharges issued by a military court (e.g., by a court-martial). Bad conduct discharges, dismissals, and dishonorable discharges are examples of punitive discharges. 

Administrative Discharge

The VA will find that a veteran meets its definition of a veteran if they have an Honorable or General discharge (under honorable conditions) and will provide them with benefits eligibility without review. Additionally, an Uncharacterized separation (due to entry-level separation) is usually also eligible for benefits.  

A veteran with an honorable discharge can receive all VA benefits, including disability compensation, educational, healthcare, and vocational benefits. The character of a veteran’s discharge must be honorable to receive VA educational benefits and services through the Montgomery GI Bill or Post-9/11 GI Bill programs. In addition, to be eligible for VA education benefits and services through any other VA educational benefit program – including those provided to survivors and dependents – the veteran must not have a dishonorable discharge or service.

Punitive Discharge

Discharges resulting from a general court-martial or a dishonorable discharge can legally prevent veterans from receiving their benefits. Suppose the VA determines that a veteran has a COD for benefits. In that case, it must also develop a formal determination of eligibility if their service is not considered honorable or they were discharged for bad conduct.

To understand what military-dependent benefits you can get after 21 years of age, head to PAGuard to read through our resources today!

Leona Rankin
Founder Leona has worked for years as a Corporate Security Manager until she decided to form the company. She deemed all information regarding security should be regarded as a necessity, especially nowadays where threat may be imminent everywhere, whether in the physical, or the digital world.