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Correcting Military Records

Veterans who believe they have experienced an error or injustice concerning their military discharge or in their military records can ask for a review. Here is the latest update on how to do that most effectively.

The Department of Defense is reviewing its policies concerning post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual assault, sexual orientation, and other issues to ensure that veterans received fair and equitable separations. Veterans who feel their discharge or military records are incorrect or unjust, can apply for an upgrade or a correction from their service’s Board for Correction of Military/Naval Records or Discharge Review Board. When applying for a review or correction of their records, veterans should explain why the discharge or record is erroneous or unjust and how it is connected to or resulted from unjust policies. Veterans should also provide support for key facts, as well as copies of their service records. The more information provided the better.

To request an upgrade or correction:

Veterans who desire a correction to their service record or who believe their discharge was unjust, erroneous, or warrants an upgrade, are encouraged to apply for review.

For discharge upgrades, if the discharge was more than 15 years ago, the veteran should complete DD Form 293: http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/forms/eforms/dd0293.pdf and send it to their service’s DRB (the address is on the form).  For discharges over 15 years ago, the veteran should complete the DD Form 149 http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/forms/eforms/dd0149.pdf and send it to their service’s BCM/NR.

For corrections of records other than discharges, veterans should complete the DD Form 149 and submit their request to their service’s BCM/NR.

Key information to include in requests:

There are three keys to successful applications for upgrade or correction.  First, it is very important to explain why the veteran’s discharge or other record was unjust or erroneous—for example, how it is connected to, or resulted from unjust policies, a physical or mental health condition related to military service, or some other explainable or justifiable circumstance.  Second, it is important to provide support, where applicable, for key facts.  If a veteran has a relevant medical diagnosis, for example, it would be very helpful to include medical records that reflect that diagnosis.  Third, it is helpful, but not always required, to submit copies of the veteran’s applicable service records.  The more information provided, the better the boards can understand the circumstances of the discharge.

BCM/NRs are also authorized to grant relief on the basis of clemency.  Veterans who believe their post-service conduct and contributions to society support an upgrade or correction should describe their post-service activity and provide any appropriate letters or other documentation of support.

Personnel records for veterans who served after 1997 should be accessible online and are usually retrievable within hours of a request through the Defense Personnel Records Information Retrieval System (DPRIS).  To obtain one’s personnel records from DPRIS, go to https://www.dpris.dod.mil, then select “Individual Veteran Access” on the left side of the website and follow the instructions.  Veterans will need to register for a logon and verify their current mailing address before requesting records.  The whole process usually takes less than 10 minutes.  Those who served prior to 1997 or for whom electronic records are not available from DPRIS, can request their records from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) using the eVetRecs website at: http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/.

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