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Upgrading Your Discharge and
Correcting Your Military Records

Discharge Characterization

There are two types of discharge from the military: administrative discharge and punitive discharge. Every member’s service is characterized at their time of discharge, and the characterization impacts the benefits a member is eligible to receive.

After you have been discharged, it is possible to petition the appropriate board to upgrade the characterization of your discharge. Upgrading the characterization of your discharge may make you eligible for benefits you are not currently eligible to receive.

How long do you have to wait after discharge to appeal?

There is a common myth that you have to wait 6 months to file for an upgrade. There is another myth that after a certain period of time, your discharge will be automatically upgraded if you file. Neither of these is true.

You can appeal as soon as you assemble a strong package to submit. There is no waiting period.

Narrative Reason for Separation, Re-Entry Codes, and Separation Codes

In addition to a service characterization, every discharge includes a narrative reason for the discharge and separation code on the DD 214. The narrative reason for separation and separation code can impact eligibility for benefits as well as many other things like employment, college admission, and security clearance.

Every enlisted discharge also includes a reentry code (or RE code) assigned upon discharge. The RE code dictates whether a member can ever re-enter active duty, enlist in a different service, or serve in a Reserve or Guard component. Officer discharges generally do not have an RE code. Separation codes and RE codes vary between the services, though they are similar.

DD 214

The character of service, narrative reason for discharge, RE code, and separation code can all be found on your DD 214. You will need a copy of your DD 214 to begin the discharge upgrade process. If you do not have a copy of your DD 214, the first step to upgrading your discharge should be to request a copy of your DD 214 by:

  • Submitting a request electronically via ; or
  • Submitting a written request by completing the SF-180 and mailing or faxing it to the appropriate entity based on the table on the form for your branch of service and date of discharge. The SF-180 can be downloaded here:; or
  • Sending a letter that includes your name and social security number at the time of discharge, date of birth, military service branch, dates of service, and the records you are requesting to the National Personnel Records Center, Attn: Military Personnel Records, 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO 63138.

How to Upgrade Your Discharge

There are two possible bodies that have authority to change your discharge: Discharge Review Board and Board for Correction of Military/Naval Records. Each service has their own Discharge Review Board and Board for Correction for Records. The body that will have the authority to upgrade your discharge depends on a number of factors including your branch of service, the date of your discharge, the characterization of your discharge, and whether you were discharged administratively or via a court-martial. Kral Military Defense can help you figure out which body has the authority to act on your petition, and put together the necessary forms and documents for your petition, including a legal brief on your behalf.

Discharge Review Boards

Each service has their own Discharge Review Board that reviews administrative discharges as well as bad conduct discharges adjudged by special court-martial. A discharge must have occurred less than 15 years ago for the Discharge Review Board to consider upgrading it. The Army Discharge Review Board (ADRB), Air Force Discharge Review Board (AFDRB), Coast Guard Discharge Review Board (CGDRB), and Naval Discharge Review Board (NDRB) (which also handles all cases from the Marine Corps) all have the authority to change the narrative reason for discharge, character of service, separation code, and RE code on the basis of propriety and/or equity.

To request a change to your discharge, a written package is submitted with the evidence and argument why your discharge should be changed. The DRBs do not generally take many investigative steps on their own, so it is important to have all supporting documents and arguments included in your submission.

You also have the right to request a personal hearing before the discharge review board. You can have a military attorney attend the hearing with you and question witnesses, facilitate testimony you want to provide to the board, and make a verbal argument to the board on your behalf.

Board for Correction of Military/Naval Records

Each service also has a Board of Correction for Military or Naval Records. The BCNR and BCMRs have the authority to upgrade discharges that are more than 15 years old, punitive discharges issued by a general court-martial, and discharges that were considered by the Discharge Review Boards but were not upgraded. The Boards for Correction of Records can make changes to records on the basis of error in the records or injustice.

A request to the BCNR or BCMR to upgrade a discharge is submitted in writing. There is no right to a personal hearing before the BCNR or BCMR, and personal hearings are rarely granted. The Boards do not generally conduct additional investigation. This makes it all the more important to ensure you submit the best evidence possible and have a strong argument in the written petition.

Discharge Appeal Review Board

In April 2021, the Department of Defense (DoD) established the Discharge Appeal Review Board. This board only has authority to hear a limited number of cases. The DAPB can only look at cases where discharge occurred on or after 20 December 2019 and that have already been reveiwed by the Discharge Review Boards and/or the Board of Correction for Military/Naval Records. A case must be submitted to the DARB within 365 days from the decision by the BCNR/BCMR denying the discharge upgrade.

Correcting Military Records

In addition to upgrading discharges, the BCMR and BCNR have broad power and discretion to correct any military record. Some examples include removing nonjudicial punishment records, restoring rank, correcting errors on DD214 or other records, and remitting debts. These are just some examples of what the BCNR and BCMRs can do. The Boards for Correction of Military Records can even change an administrative discharge to a medical discharge or retirement.

A request to the Board of Correction of Records to correct military records must be made in writing. Typically, a request must be submitted within three years of the error, however there are exceptions to this requirement.

Why is your choice of military defense attorney so important?

Your military discharge and records impact life even after you leave the military. Your eligibility for benefits, employability, options for school, and many other aspects of your life are impacted by your discharge or other military records.

The process to upgrading discharge or correcting records can be complicated and requires you to articulate your request through evidence and in writing. The presumption is in favor of the government, so you need an attorney who can argue against that presumption on your behalf. All the boards allow for reconsideration in certain circumstances, so even if you have submitted a package already on your own and your petition was denied, we can still help.

You need someone who knows how the process works, recognizes the evidence with the best chance of success, and is able to put forward a strong argument for you. Contact Kral Military Defense, PC today at (855) 707-8265 or request a free consultation.


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*Please note, KMD does not handle cases involving the Department of Veterans Affairs, disability claims, or family law matters.

Found myself in an unfortunate situation where I was in need of a lawyer. Luckily when I did a google search Kral Military Defense was the first website to pop up. If you are willing to fight for your name and career, then look no further Kral Military Defense is who you want on your side. Stephaine and her team are very knowledgeable and professional.
Kral Military Defenses has my highest recommendation! If you are a service member and need an attorney who is responsive, intelligent, and treats you like a person, not just a number. She is the attorney for you.I was on deployment when I needed an attorney. Kral Military Defense took care of my legal affairs while I was out to sea. It was a weight off my shoulders knowing she was handling my situation back home while I was gone.When my chain of command was putting unnecessary limitations on my liberty because of my legal situation. She went above and beyond by contacted my ship and was able to get them lifted.Kral Military Defense was able to resolve my situation with no action taken against myself. If I ever need of a defense attorney ever again I'm 100% coming back to Kral Military Defense.
matthew larason
matthew larason
My local Military Defense Counsel is very short staffed so I had trouble getting a hold of them. Not wanting to wait I contacted Ms. Danielle Espinosa over the weekend and she was able to help review and discuss my response with me before it was due Monday. She was extremely knowledgeable, cut the fluff and told me like it was. I recommend anyone serious about the future of their Military Career to work with this team. Thank you for your help!
When I retained Ms. Kral, I was a nervous wreck. As she worked with me over the course of 18 months, she was compassionate and was able to assure me that I would have a future. Even my command JAG assured me I’d be alright when I hired her. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome with my case. Ms. Kral should be your choice if you need a military defense attorney.
Chad S.
Chad S.
Abbigayle Hunter and her legal team, especially Danielle Espinosa, were exceptional! The communication was prompt, professional, and thorough. From the moment we reached out to them, they showed a genuine interest in understanding our case and providing us with the best legal representation possible.Abbigayle Hunter and Danielle Espinosa, went above and beyond to ensure that we were kept informed throughout the entire legal process. They promptly responded to our emails and phone calls, addressing any concerns or questions we had. Their attention to detail and extensive knowledge of the law instilled confidence in us that we were in capable hands.Not only did Abbigayle Hunter and her team provide us with excellent communication, but they also displayed a remarkable level of expertise. They meticulously examined every aspect of our case, leaving no stone unturned. Their dedication and commitment to our case were evident in the meticulous research they conducted, the thorough documentation they prepared, and the persuasive arguments they presented.Abbigayle Hunter not only possessed an impressive understanding of the law but also had excellent negotiation skills. Her tirelessly advocated on our behalf, ensuring that our interests were protected and our rights were upheld. Their ability to navigate complex legal matters and maneuver through any obstacles that arose was truly remarkable.
Rufus Byrd
Rufus Byrd
Stephanie and her team were AMAZING! I found her through a mutual friend and she handled my case with care and compassion. Even her team checked on me, answered all my questions I had, overall she made sure everything was token care of during the ENTIRE process! When she told me “don’t you worry, that’s my job” I truly believe her and in the end she got the results that I am so grateful for! Hopefully I won’t have to go through the process again but if I have to she will most definitely be the woman I WILL call on! Thank you so much Stephanie and Danielle you both made this process a lot less stressful with your knowledge and compassion towards me and my case!!!
Steph and her team worked diligently to ensure all evidence or lack there of was thoroughly examined. Her knowledge and experience within the military justice system gave me piece of mind throughout the process as she was well versed in the way everything played out. My family and I are grateful for the hard work and professionalism displayed by everyone on her team. Thank you!
Jonathon Lynch
Jonathon Lynch
Hiring Steph has been the greatest thing for my career. In the last year alone I have had horrible encounters with my immediate chain of command and twice I had the best outcome given the circumstances. I highly recommend Steph.
Eva Aguilar
Eva Aguilar
Steph was the first and clear choice to handle my ADSEP board. I was facing serious allegations, which she handled with professionalism while keeping me posted along the way. Her expertise in UCMJ matters is second to none. Without her I would have probably lost my retirement benefits.
Called on behalf of a veteran who is terminally ill regarding a discharge upgrade and spoke to their assistant Christian. Christian was so unbelievably rude and spoke to me like I'm an idiot when he was unable to answer the questions I had about their services and the process. The level of disrespect from him totally caught me off guard given the nature of work the office is supposed to be doing. What's more upsetting is the lack of empathy that he displayed during our conversation. Unfortunately, I can't not speak on the level of service from the attorneys since we decided to go with someone else but Christian either needs to undergo more training or he needs to be replaced.
Desiree M.
Desiree M.
Stephanie is very experienced and a great attorney.
Jameel Yusuf
Jameel Yusuf
There are many things that I could say about this particular law firm, but instead of going into the weeds on my particular case, I feel as though brevity would be the best choice here. I was primarily represented by Ms. Abbigayle Hunter, and in short, I believe the representation by Ms. Hunter was above reproach. I couldn’t have asked for a better legal professional to handle the complexities of my particular case. She was transparent, punctual, and actually made me feel as though she was personally invested, despite the fact that she had already been paid for representation. She didn’t sugarcoat hard truths and was very up front about all different aspects relating to my case. It was comforting in a way that she was also a fellow service member, and it made me feel as though she took this case to heart and it added another level of drive to the case. Ms. Hunter has a certain tenacity in the courtroom that I found very refreshing to witness, and I would strongly recommend her to anyone else seeking legal advice. Would actively seek to be represented by her again, though also hoping it’s never needed.
Tim Malikie
Tim Malikie
Outstanding!!!! She's very smart, knows her job, and communicates with you all the time with the best of her knowledge. I highly recommend Kral Military Defense!!!
Jamal Stephens
Jamal Stephens
After my command refused to give me due process, I was lost for words and truly had no where to turn. A shipmate referred me to Steph and it was the best possible recommendation I have ever received. Reliable, expert, professional and overall just a great person. She never lost sight of my case and would check in on me to ensure I was doing good personally. I highly recommend her services to anyone who may have a legal issue. At minimum, request a consultation. I can assure that you will not be dissatisfied!
Vincent Hurtado
Vincent Hurtado
Highly recommend Steph! Thank you for all your hard work and fighting for righteousness. My family and I will be forever grateful!
Selena Hurtado
Selena Hurtado
Great team! After hiring this legal team i was pleased with their work and their ability to go above and beyond resulting in a finding of not guilty.
Tyson Smith
Tyson Smith
Very easy to talk to. Will get you the best outcome there is
I wish you could give more than 5 stars. She deserves 10!! This was a huge decision for our child, but she was worth every penny and more. As a mom I was really concerned about him spending the money on an attorney since you never know what you’re going to get. Our child mentioned this to Stephanie and she called me to answer all my questions. She went above and beyond what was required of her, not just with the phone call but with everything she did. The case went on for longer than we had ever imagined. She never wavered in her dedication. I was honestly shocked at just how hard she worked. If only I could express in words the heart felt gratitude, we feel towards her. She fought so hard and we knew we could trust decisions she made. When ever our child would update us, we would ask what Stephanie thought. We never could have imagined finding an attorney who we trust as much as we trust her. I don’t believe you will find an attorney who will fight as hard for you as she will. I consider her a part of our family and am so very blessed to have gotten to know her. She’s an amazing attorney and an even more amazing human being.
Shelly B.
Shelly B.
Stephanie was a great attorney as well as her team they helped me through my entire CID investigation and got me a no basis separation. Every question I had was answered in the upmost professional manner. I highly recommend that you retain her defense team for any case that you have. She’s attacks every case in a manner that leaves everyone with a reasonable doubt.
This was a life changing decision.I spent hours searching for and calling several attorneys. Some didn't give me the time of day, others just seemed cold. Mrs. Kral was the only attorney I called who actually seemed to care. And not only that but she listened me and gave an honest opinion. Usually you feel that attorneys only care about money but I never once felt that from Mrs. Kral. She took a personal interest in my case and brought not only her extensive knowledge of the law, but also her fierce attitude and relentless perseverance. She never missed a beat and always had a way forward. She also has excellent communication skills and took the time to explain everything to me at every step. I felt hopeless until we met. Now I can move on with my life and move forward with everything behind me because of how valiantly she fought. I truly think that if you decide to choose Kral Military Defense to fight for you then you'll never feel disappointed. If I could give more than 5 stars then I would. Because she's not like other attorneys. She will always have your back and keep your best interests at heart. If you take away anything from this review, let it be this: You want someone behind you that is willing to fight for you as if you were their own and also has the strength and knowledge to be successful. Don't pass up the opportunity to increase your chances and decrease your stress.
Evan Giancola
Evan Giancola
The team at Kral Military Defense is very approachable, knowledgeable, and dedicated. I was facing an LOR due to the results of an investigation conducted by the military. The team at Kral Military Defense reviewed the report of investigation and was able to craft an excellent rebuttal to the charges. Ultimately, the leadership decided to rescind the LOR . The whole team, Steph, Danielle, ,Abby, and Chris were very responsive to my questions and requests through the whole process. If you ever find yourself in any sort of legal situation in the military I highly recommend that you contact them and put them in your corner!
Stephanie was very knowledgeable and despite me being so anxious about my case helped me through it and got an innocent verdict within 6 minutes of the board being adjourned. So very grateful for her and my JAG for helping me out and highly recommend hiring Stephanie especially if you are military.
Andrew Compton
Andrew Compton
This law firm it worth every penny. Mrs. Danielle is an amazing women. She is kind and warm hearted and professional. She will make sure she understands you very well and will fights tooth and nail for you. Mrs. Abby is phenomenal. Mrs. Abby's Knowledge is deep and spot on. Mrs. Abby knows what to do and if she's not sure about UCMJ she'll make sure she does within your next call. Both these ladies are top-tier lawyer and paralegal. And I will always recommend these two to others for the duration of their long careers. Christian was a great guy and made sure all information was pushed up to them in a timely manner he's a hidden gem. They fight the good fight. Do not doubt them and work with them and they'll do their best and more.
Peter Petracca
Peter Petracca
Kral Military Defense has been absolutely amazing to me. Their whole team is very easy to work with and does such an amazing job. Kral defense was referred to me by JAGS I used to work with and I would absolutely 110% recommend and refer them to anyone in need of assistance. They have made my whole situation stress free and easy.
Kyle Lewis
Kyle Lewis
Steph and her team helped me to get a positive outcome during my NJP process. As soon I heard my case was going to captain mast, I googled military lawyer's and her name came up. With her experience as a former active duty Jag, her team truly understands the military system and what commands can and cannot do. With just a week to prepare for the NJP, her team got me templates that made the process easier. Her wording in her official letter to my command made it hard for the command to process several charges. This team is professional and know what they are doing. Hopefully I am never in this position again, but if so Kral Military Defense will be my first call.
James Johnson
James Johnson

About The Firm

Kral Military Defense defends members of America's military throughout the world. We do not maintain physical office space in the traditional sense. Instead, we offer secure video and telephone consultations and meet with current clients, as needed, at home and abroad.

Office Location

3111 Camino Del Rio N.
Suite 400
San Diego, CA 92108

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Nothing on this site should create an expectation of any particular outcome or result. Every case is unique.

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