Types of Discharges
Military discharges in the United States are not considered military retirement. Instead, a member of the armed forces is given a military discharge when they are no longer obligated to serve. There are five main types of military discharges from military service. Each type of discharge has a different meaning depending on the behavior of the service member.
Discharges are generally considered as administrative or as court-martial separations. Both types of separations differ based on who enforces the discharge. Members of the Administrative Discharge Board discharge military members in administrative discharges, while court-martial discharges go to a criminal trial conducted by the military.
Each branch of the military may have different guidelines to determine the types of discharge a soldier will receive.
An honorable military discharge is a form of administrative discharge that military members receive if their service rating was good or excellent, meaning they performed their duties well. It is considered the highest discharge a military member can receive.
A military member receives a general discharge when their performance is satisfactory in some areas, but may have fallen short in other areas. This form of administrative discharge is not considered as dishonorable, but could be a result of a misconduct or failure to adapt to the military environment.
Other-than-honorable (OTH) discharges are the most severe type of administrative discharge. Misconducts resulting in OTH discharges are typically decided case-by-case and usually involve an offense that makes them unfit for military service.
Common reasons for OTH discharges:
- A pattern of bad behavior
- Being found guilty of adultery
- Conviction by a civilian court resulting in a sentence of prison time
- Failing a drug test
- Security violations
- Use of violence (assault)
Bad Conduct Discharge
A bad conduct discharge is considered punitive, meaning the service member’s behavior was severe enough to be tried by a military court-martial. Depending on the severity of the misconduct, the bad conduct discharge may result in prison time. Military members can receive a bad conduct discharge as a result of a civilian felony and typically forfeit all veteran benefits. The military conducts the trial on a case-by-case basis to decide if VA benefits will be rewarded.
A court-martial determines dishonorable discharges when a service member commits a serious offense. Veterans with a dishonorable discharge likely lose all veterans affairs (VA) benefits, the right to vote, the right to receive government assistance, and the right to own firearms.
Actions that may result in a dishonorable discharge:
- Sexual assault
After being discharged, regardless of the type, each veteran receives a document called the DD-214. Veterans keep this document for life and use it to receive benefits. The document explains what type of discharge the veteran received, which affects their benefits.
Other-Than-Honorable Discharged Mesothelioma Patients
Veterans who received a less than honorable discharge likely lost the right to veterans benefits, such as education, financial assistance, veteran pension, VA home loans, and possibly veteran funeral arrangements. However, a veteran with an other-than-honorable discharge may still retain eligibility for VA health care for medical conditions incurred during service or as a result of service.
When a veteran applies for VA health care benefits with an other-than-honorable discharge, a staff member will register them as Pending Verification Status. This status requests for an administrative decision, in which the VA Regional Office reviews the veteran’s type of medical condition and the character of service to determine eligibility.
Mesothelioma patients who are veterans that received an other-than-honorable discharge may not qualify for VA benefits depending on the case. However, compensation is still available to cover medical costs and other expenses.
Veterans with mesothelioma can file a lawsuit against the companies that produced the asbestos that exposed them during service. If the company or companies no longer exist or are bankrupt, mesothelioma patients can file a claim through a company’s trust fund.
Dishonorable Discharged Mesothelioma Patients
Dishonorable discharges are the most severe type of discharge veterans can receive. Military offenses that lead to a dishonorable discharge usually resemble civilian felony offenses and can lead to jail time. While most veterans receive lifelong health care through the VA, a dishonorable discharge results in the forfeit of all benefits.
The discharge goes on the veteran’s record, making it hard to obtain loans and jobs. Further, veterans with a dishonorable discharge are no longer permitted to vote or own firearms.
Dishonorably discharged veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma are not able to have their medical costs covered through VA benefits. However, any veteran diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestosis due to asbestos exposure on military property are entitled
Dishonorably discharged veterans can also file a lawsuit against companies that supplied asbestos to the military. Hiring an experienced asbestos lawyer will ease the process of collecting asbestos information from the military before filing a lawsuit.
Types of Lawsuits
Each U.S. state has a set time frame, known as the statute of limitations, in which victims can file a claim. Veterans can file two types of lawsuits:
Personal injury lawsuit
Veterans with mesothelioma can file a personal injury lawsuit against the asbestos companies that supplied the military with the toxic material. Personal injury lawsuits result in financial compensation that covers medical care, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering.
Wrongful death lawsuit
When a mesothelioma patient passes away, family members of the victim can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the companies that supplied asbestos. Even family members of veterans who received a dishonorable discharged can still file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Veterans may be eligible to apply to have their discharge upgraded by filling out a DD Form 293 for the Review of Discharge. Veterans must submit the form to the Discharge Review Board within 15 after being discharged.
Each military branch conducts a review. Veterans must collect evidence and document the reasons why the military should upgrade their discharge, and include it with their submitted DD Form 293. Applying for an upgrade does not guarantee success.
The application will not be approved if the veteran applies solely based on becoming eligible for VA benefits. Instead, veterans must explain changed behavior. Certain cases, such as court-martial discharges, may not be suitable for review.
Where Do I Begin?
If you are a dishonorably discharged veteran with mesothelioma, don’t give up hope. You may still qualify for compensation to cover the necessary costs. Speak with an experienced asbestos attorney to start the process.