Normally, a military servicemember will serve the duration of their enlistment contract, after which they may choose to end their service or re-enlist with a new contract. However, in some cases, a servicemember’s military career may come to a premature end. Distinct from a punitive discharge, which typically involves a court-martial, an administrative separation ends a servicemember’s contract through a non-judicial (i.e. administrative) process.
Administrative separation can be thought of as the equivalent of being fired from a civilian job and can occur because of:
- A sustained pattern of misconduct
- Poor performance
- Nonperformance of duties
- Weight control and/or fitness issues
- Drug/alcohol abuse
- Civilian criminal conduct
What Options Do I Have for Administrative Separation?
If your command seeks an administrative separation, it will notify you of the basis for your separation and the recommended characterization of service. These details can affect your options for contesting your administrative separation. In particular, the characterization of service refers to the quality of the service you rendered and can affect your eligibility for military and veterans’ benefits. In an administrative separation, your service can be characterized in one of three ways:
- Honorable – Designates a servicemember who has met the standards of acceptable conduct and performance of duty.
- General (under honorable conditions) – Used when the negative aspects of a servicemember’s conduct and performance outweigh the positive aspects. This designation can disqualify someone for GI Bill or other veterans’ benefits and render them ineligible to reenlist.
- Other than honorable – Used when a servicemember displayed behavior that constituted a significant departure from the conduct and performance expected by the military, including endangering the security of the United States or fellow servicemembers, using force or violence, abusing a special position of trust, or endangering the health and welfare of others. Being discharged under other than honorable conditions typically disqualifies a servicemember from returning to the service or from receiving veterans’ benefits.
You have the right to challenge the characterization of service rendered in your administrative separation. And if you are separated in an honorable discharge, you may be able to reenlist in the same service branch or a different branch of the armed forces.
How Could a Lawyer Help Me?
If you have been notified that your command is pursuing an administrative separation, an attorney can help you by going over the details of your case and advising you of your legal rights and options, as well as explaining what you can expect during the administrative separation process.
If your service will be characterized as anything other than honorable, an attorney can also help you challenge that characterization. A lawyer can investigate the specific reasons why your command is seeking your administrative separation and can provide evidence to contest the reasons being given for your administrative separation and the characterization of your service.
An experienced military law attorney can also walk you through your rights and options following your administrative separation, including advising you of what military and veterans’ benefits you can receive based on your characterization of service, or whether you may be eligible to seek reenlistment in the same branch or another branch of the service.
Contact Invictus Law
If you are being subjected to administrative separation from military service, contact the administrative separation lawyers at Invictus Law today for a free consultation with an experienced member of our legal team about your legal rights and options. Our firm was founded by military service members, and we are ready to fight to defend your rights and help you keep your position in the armed forces.