Service members can be discharged from the military for a variety of reasons, from weight problems to alleged misconduct. If you are pending administrative discharge, you need an attorney who knows the military system, and who can fight to defend your rights. Our founding attorney William E. Cassara has appeared before numerous administrative boards, for both officer and enlisted members, and knows how the administrative board system works. Don't wait until you are discharged to try to do something about it. The time to fight is now.
Not only is it important for your lawyer to know what happens at an administrative board, it is also important for your lawyer to know how to steer the case either toward or away from an administrative board, depending on the circumstances. While the military will provide you with a free lawyer for many of these cases, you might also want to consider hiring a civilian attorney with experience in military cases.
Service regulations permit the government to administratively separate service members whose performance, conduct, or physical and mental conditions indicate a lack of ability to continue to serve. There are several reasons why the command may move to administratively separate (or "chapter") you out of the military, including misconduct, minor disciplinary infractions, commission of a serious civilian offense; a physical or mental condition that limits the ability to continue to serve; failure to meet weight or physical fitness standards; failure of an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program; hardship; and for "the good of the service." Some of the types of misconduct that can lead to separation include, but are not limited to:
- Drug abuse
- Conviction in a state or federal court
Military Board Of Inquiry — Can I Fight This?
If your command is proposing to separate you with an Other Than Honorable (OTH) discharge or if you have six or more years of military service, they are required to hold a "due process" hearing before a panel of officers and seniors enlisted, and attempt to put on evidence to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that:
- You have in fact done the disqualifying act or have the disqualifying condition
As a result of this evidence, you should be discharged from the service
As a result of the evidence both for and against you, your discharge should be characterized as either honorable, general under honorable conditions, or under other than honorable conditions; and, in some cases
- Recommendations concerning suspension of the discharge
At this proceeding, you have the right to be present, and to be represented by a military lawyer, including your detailed military lawyer, and a civilian military lawyer whom you retain. This is a substantial evidentiary hearing, with the right to challenge the government's evidence, cross-examine their witnesses, present your own witnesses and evidence, and testify on your own behalf.
In short, this is something you can fight. I have represented literally hundreds of service members in administrative separation boards. See my recent accomplishments for what I have done for others, and can do for you.
What Happens After The Board?
Each of the services has different rules and regulations that govern administrative separation boards. However, as a general rule, if the board finds that you did not commit the disqualifying act or have the disqualifying condition, then the case is normally closed. If it finds that you should not be discharged, this normally closes the issue, although the government can forward it to higher headquarters. For a finding of discharge, both you and the government can go to the General Court-Martial Convening Authority (GCMCA). The GCMCA has the power to disapprove findings adverse to you, can upgrade the condition of your discharge, or could suspend the discharge based on your continued good conduct.
At each stage of these processes, you have to write to make a written response to any government documents and findings. Experience has shown that, on some occasions, the GCMCA has been willing to entertain personal interviews with you to assist them in making their determination.