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Council of Review Boards (CORB)
Preparing For A Personal Appearance Hearing At Washington Navy Yard, DC
This information is provided as an overview of protocol specifically related to your personal appearance before the Naval Discharge Review Board (NDRB). Anyone petitioning this Board will be referred to as an “Applicant.” The formulation of issues associated with your discharge is discussed herein. This sheet is instructional; Board expectations are addressed for your information and convenience only.
The Naval Discharge Review Board is an official Board of the Secretary of the Navy. The purpose of the Board is to review discharges of former Navy and Marine Corps personnel at their request. The request is submitted to the Board via a DD Form 293 in the form of issues based on propriety (legal), equity (fairness) or a combination of both citing specific reasons why the discharge should be changed.
The Board is allowed by law to consider everything in your official records to be correct unless there is clear and substantial evidence to the contrary. The burden of providing new evidence or evidence of an error rests with the Applicant. Although the Board will presume regularity in the conduct of government affairs, all evidence presented will be considered. Properly documented evidence can override this presumption.
Applicants are reminded this is an Administrative Board and not a court of law. The Board is comprised of five officers from the Navy and Marine Corps with extensive operational experience. A minimum of three Board members will be from the Applicant’s service. This hearing is not an adversarial proceeding wherein the Applicant will be intimidated or challenged for the purpose of impugning motives or the integrity of the case. The Applicant should feel comfortable throughout the hearing. The Board will look at evidence that has direct connection to the reason for discharge. Applicants before this Board may bring witnesses, provide written statements, submit statements of others, or provide other documentary evidence. Applicants may, at their option, testify under oath, make an unsworn statement, or say nothing. Applicants may also request observers be present during the hearing even though they will not testify. The entire hearing will be recorded on magnetic tape.
For the purpose of definition, the Department of the Navy, in issuing a discharge will always presume it was correct in that action. Your request for review and change to the discharge challenges this concept and requires the Board to review the circumstances of the discharge. Your reasons in support of this request are known as issues. This Board requests Applicant issues to initiate the review process and as a basis for deciding whether or not to approve an upgrade. If issues are not provided, the Board will use the general issues of overall propriety and equity. This is a less desirable option since the presumption is this was done at the time the discharge was issued.
A reminder: issues are the reason you want the Board to look at your case and can be based on either of the following categories only.
  1. An issue of PROPRIETY – Issues claiming the discharge or a portion of the discharge is IMPROPER in that it did not follow regulations. It is a claim there is an error of fact, law, procedure or indiscretion associated with the discharge.
  2. An issue of EQUITY – Issues claiming the discharge is INEQUITABLE in that it is unfair or disproportionate. Most issues are of this type.
An issue must be in writing as or part of the DD 293 Form. It can be stated in a simple sentence or series of sentences covering those points that the Applicant wishes to make known to the Board. For example: “The discharge is (improper) (inequitable) because of ___________________________.” The Applicant must sign this form.
In addition to the period of service under review, the Board is also authorized to consider significant documented post-service accomplishments in determining the overall merits of the request. Applicants are urged to bring all documentation to the hearing, which will support their issues. Documentation includes credentials, transcripts, certificates, correspondence, testimonials, and references to mention a few. As an example, if an Applicant mentions educational achievements, extensive rehabilitation, or a record of community service, the Board can and will require supporting documentation.
Prior to the hearing, the Board will have been briefed on the highlights of the case by the recorder. The Applicant can assume the Board is familiar with the general chronology of his or her enlistment. The hearing will be restricted in scope to the issues presented for the Board’s consideration. This is the reason it is important to cover all points during the presentation of issues as to why the Applicant feels the discharge should be changed. When the hearing is ready to commence, the Applicant and his representative will be invited into the hearing room by the recorder assigned to the case. After brief introductions, the Applicant and representative should feel free to automatically sit down to commence the proceeding. Preliminary questions will be asked to identify those present and to verify the record. The Applicant and witnesses will be sworn in and, at this point, the recorder will invite the Applicant and representative to present their case. This is the time to present any and all evidence to include testimony and documents in support of the issues.
After the case has been presented, the Presiding Officer will assume, unless otherwise informed, there will be no objections to questioning of the Applicant by Board members. Some Board members may have no questions; however, questions are important to resolve doubt and clarify confusing testimony. All questions are relevant although it may not appear so. To put the Applicant’s mind at ease, the Board is not interested in asking trick questions. The Applicant may anticipate hard questions, and in some cases, personal questions which have a bearing on the case. Closing statements will be invited from the representative and the Applicant. When the hearing concludes, the Applicant must feel sufficient time was provided to present their case and that a fair hearing was afforded. The Applicant will be asked to verify this. The hearing will then be closed.
The Applicant will not be immediately informed of decision. The Board will deliberate on the testimony and evidence presented along with the information contained in the official records. When a decision has been reached and the case is finalized, the Applicant will be notified by mail of the Board’s decision. The closeout of the case could take several months. The Applicant is reminded in the event the Board decides not to upgrade their discharge; an application can be made to the Board for Correction of Naval Records (BCNR). Criteria for upgrade sometimes differ between the NDRB and the BCNR.