Correction of Military/Naval Records
The Department of Defense encourages all Veterans who believe they have suffered an error or injustice to request relief from their Military Department’s Board for Correction of Military /Naval Records (BCM/NR) or Discharge Review Board (DRB). In the past several years, the Department issued supplemental guidance for the correction of military records that may involve post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), sexual assault, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, and spousal abuse that enhances the ability to correct past errors or injustices.
To request an upgrade to your discharge or correction of your military/naval record:
- Veterans who believe they have suffered an error or injustice warranting a correction to their service record or who believe their discharge was unjust, erroneous, or warrants an upgrade, are encouraged to apply to the review boards.
- For discharge upgrades, if the discharge was less than 15 years ago, the Veteran should complete the DD Form 293 (https://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/forms/dd/dd0293.pdf) and send it to their Military Department DRB (the address is on the form).
- For discharges over 15 years ago or in cases already considered for upgrade and denied by the Military Department DRB, the veteran should complete the DD Form 149 (https://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/forms/dd/dd0149.pdf) and send it to their Military Department’s BCM/NR (the address is on the form). For other corrections of records, veterans should complete the DD Form 149 and submit their request to their Military Department’s BCM/NR (the address is on the form).
- If a veteran is unsure of how or where to apply for a discharge upgrade or correction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, in partnership with the Department of Defense, provides resources veterans can use to help with applications as well as provide personalized instructions in response to a few simple questions on a publicly available website. (https://www.va.gov/resources/request-a-discharge-upgrade-or-correction/)
- If you require additional assistance and qualify as a veteran, there are several veterans’ service organizations and military service organizations that provide free representation in Military Service review board cases, such as the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, the Order of Purple Heart, or your local county Veteran Service Officer (https://www.va.gov/vso/VSO-Directory.pdf). These non-Federal advocacy groups require advanced notice to prepare for your hearings so you should contact them as early in the process as possible to make arrangements.
Key information to include in requests:
- There are three keys to successful applications for upgrade of discharge service characterization or correction of records. First, it is very important to explain why your 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 you have 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 your applicable service records. The more information you provide, the better the Boards can understand the circumstances of your 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 access and verify their current mailing address before requesting records. 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 using the eVetRecs website at: http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/.
For other information or assistance:
Military Whistleblower Reprisal Claims
- The Military Whistleblower Protection Act (10 U.S.C. § 1034) prohibits retaliation against a member of the Armed Forces who makes, or is perceived as making, a protected disclosure within the scope of the law to an authorized government recipient. It also prohibits restricting a Service member from lawfully communicating with an Inspector General or a Member of Congress.
- More information on what constitutes a whistleblower reprisal complaint and how to file an initial whistleblower reprisal claim can be found at the Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General: Department of Defense Office of Inspector General > Components > Administrative Investigations > Whistleblower Reprisal Investigations > Whisteblower Reprisal (dodig.mil)
- A Service member whose claim is found not to be substantiated by the Inspector General may file an appeal with the relevant Board for Correction of Military Records or Board for Correction of Naval Records (BCM/NR) to challenge an unfavorable outcome.
More information on the BCM/NR process can be found at:
If the relevant BCM/NR declines to provide relief on the basis of the Service member’s whistleblower reprisal complaint, a final administrative appeal may be made to the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness who acts on behalf of the Secretary of Defense.
The Office of Legal Policy accepts and reviews these appeals on behalf of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. No particular form is required but the applicant’s request for relief should be sent to:
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness
ATTENTION TO OFFICE OF LEGAL POLICY
4000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-4000
The request should include as much documentation as possible, including any documents submitted to the IG and/or the relevant BCM/NR.