When a Service Member separates from the Military, they are required to attend a final out processing appointment. The final appointment is very important as it allows the Service Member to review their DD Form 214, reentry codes and Military Service Records.
Sometimes, in their haste to transition into the civilian sector, their records are overlooked.
Luckily, the Military has several departments that support Veterans who need assistance correcting their DD Form 214, the character of discharge or Military Service Records.
Each branch of the Military has established “Service Review Boards”, who have the authority to alter records.
The Department of the Army Review Boards Agency (ARBA), on behalf of the Secretary of the Army, serves as the highest administrative level for review of personnel actions taken by lower levels of command and administers the Army Board of Correction of Military Records (ABCMR) and the Army Discharge Review Board.
The ABCMR was established to allow soldiers, former soldiers, and their families or heirs an opportunity to have their objections heard by a fair and impartial panel. Members of the ABCMR are appointed on a rotating basis as an additional duty. They determine if an error or injustice has occurred and what course of action will provide relief to the applicant.
Active duty soldiers and former members of the Regular Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard may apply. If the former member is deceased or incompetent:
May apply by providing supporting documentation with the application (e.g., marriage license, death certificate, court order or decree).
You should apply to the ABCMR when you feel an error or injustice has occurred. Normally, you should consider submitting an application only after you have used all other administrative means for correcting an omission or error in your records. For example, if you are trying to get an NCOER removed from your records, the ABCMR will not take any action until the Enlisted Records and Evaluation Center, and the Enlisted Special Review Board complete an appeal of the evaluation report.
All records maintained by the military concerning your career are eligible for review. Some common examples are:
You should apply to the ABCMR only after exhausting all administrative means of resolution and within three years of discovery of the error. Some circumstances will warrant consideration past the three-year statutory limit. However, you should submit your application as soon as possible after exhausting administrative remedies.
You must submit a DD Form 149 with an original signature. The DD Form 149 should fully explain the error or injustice and you may continue the explanation on a separate sheet of paper. Also include a recent copy of your Official Military Personnel File, commonly available as a microfiche, statements from agencies from which you’ve sought administrative remedies, any other document you believe supports your case, current address, and telephone number. Blank forms can be obtained from any military personnel office or by sending a request to the ABCMR. Army Regulation 15-185 has detailed information concerning the ABCMR and how to complete the form.
The ABCMR staff screens your appeal and will contact you if there are discrepancies. You will have the opportunity to supplement your application with the correct or additional information. Next, the staff may request an advisory opinion. The ABCMR requests an advisory opinion from the Department of the Army agency that is responsible for setting the policy. The advisory opinion guides board members and interprets the Army regulations in effect at the time of the error or injustice. Note, however, that the ABCMR is not bound by the opinion of the agency.
An examiner ensures that all of the necessary information is present and provides the ABCMR with an opinion based on the facts presented by you and by the DA agency. The examiner then completes an opinion for the board and the ABCMR staff schedules the case for a hearing before the ABCMR. Except in those rare cases where a personal appearance is granted, the Board bases its decision on the evidence contained in the application and the appropriate military or other records.
The ABCMR usually meets once a week and will review approximately 50 to 100 cases prepared for that week. After the board, the members refer your case to the support staff to prepare a written response to you. If the ABCMR determines that relief is warranted, the Department of the Army agency is notified to make any necessary corrections.
In some cases, the entire process can be time-consuming. Selection boards and other career-enhancing opportunities do not stop during this process, so in some instances, the ABCMR will direct the applicant be reconsidered for promotion, schooling, or other career-enhancing opportunities.
Administrative applications take about three months to complete. Applications requiring consideration by the Board may take as long as six months to process.
It is not necessary to submit a request for correction of records (DD Form 149) through an intermediate level review forum before submitting an application to the ABCMR. However, all administrative remedies must first be exhausted before an application will be considered by the ABCMR.
If you have a mandatory separation date approaching, the ABCMR cannot suspend the action while your application is under review. Every effort is made to process an application involving a retirement/ separation promptly, the fact an application has been submitted does not provide a basis to suspend the action. However, it is your responsibility to ensure the ABCMR is aware of a pending retirement/separation date.
If any advisory opinion does not fully support the relief requested, a copy will be referred to the applicant or counsel. The applicant/counsel will have 30 days from the date of the referral to present any new statements or documents directly to the ABCMR. If an extension is required, you must request it in writing within 30 days of the referral date.
Submission of an application is a private matter between the applicant and the Board/Board staff; Privacy Act provisions apply. Copies of the Record of Proceedings or Memorandum of Consideration are furnished only to the applicant or the applicant’s counsel. If a correction to your record was approved, the decision from the Board would be furnished to the appropriate Army activity to make the necessary corrections.
No compensation (damages) will be received from the ABCMR based on a substantiated injustice you suffer. Monetary settlement occurs only as a result of correcting the military record. Claims against the Government must be presented through the appropriate Federal civil court system.
MSG Washington has served within the ranks of the United States Army since June of 2001. With ten years of recruiting experience, he is an expert on Recruiting Operations, who willingly assists applicants across the Country with their enlistment process.