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Council of Review Boards (CORB)

DoDI 1332.28 4/4/2004 Discharge Review Board (DRB) Procedures and Standards

SECNAVINST 5420.174D 12/22/2004 Naval Discharge Review Board Procedures and Standards

Under Secretary of Defense policy for correction of military records pursuant to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act (DADT) of 2010

SECDEF Policy for consideration of discharge upgrade for veterans claiming PTSD

Clarifying Guidance to DRBs Considering Requests by Veterans for Modification of their Discharge Due to Mental Health Conditions, Sexual Assault, or Sexual Harassment

ADDENDUM:  Information for the Applicant
Complaint Procedures: If you believe the decision in your case is unclear, not responsive to the issues you raised, or does not otherwise comport with the decisional document requirements of DoD Instruction 1332.28, you may submit a complaint in accordance with Enclosure (5) of that Instruction to the Joint Service Review Activity, OUSD (P&R) PI-LP, The Pentagon, Washington, DC  20301-4000.  You should read Enclosure (5) of the Instruction before submitting such a complaint.  The complaint procedure does not permit a challenge of the merits of the decision; it is designed solely to ensure that the decisional documents meet applicable requirements for clarity and responsiveness.  You may view DoD Instruction 1332.28 and other Decisional Documents by going online at  More information is available at
Additional Reviews: After a document review has been conducted, former members are eligible for a personal appearance or telephonic hearing, provided the application is received at the NDRB within 15 years of the Applicant’s date of discharge.  The Applicant can provide documentation to support any claims of post-service accomplishments or any additional evidence related to this discharge.  Representation at a personal appearance hearing is recommended but not required.  There are veterans organizations such as the American Legion and the Disabled American Veterans that are willing to provide guidance to former service members in their efforts to obtain a discharge upgrade.  If a former member has been discharged for more than 15 years, has already been granted a personal appearance hearing or has otherwise exhausted their opportunities before the NDRB, the Applicant may petition the Board for Correction of Naval Records (BCNR), 701 South Courthouse Road, Suite 1001, Arlington, VA 22204-2490, or for further review.

Service Benefits: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) determines eligibility for post-service benefits, not the NDRB. There is no requirement or law that grants recharacterization solely on the issue of obtaining veterans benefits and this issue does not serve to provide a foundation upon which the Board can grant relief.  

Employment/Educational Opportunities: The NDRB has no authority to upgrade a discharge for the sole purpose of enhancing employment or educational opportunities. Regulations limit the NDRB’s review to a determination of the propriety and equity of the discharge.

Reenlistment/RE-code: Effective 6 February 2015, the NDRB is authorized to change a NDRB Applicant’s Reenlistment Code if related to an accompanying change in discharge characterization or narrative, but this authority is strictly limited to those cases where an applicant’s narrative reason or characterization of discharge is changed and that change warrants revision of the previously issued reenlistment code. Additionally, the NDRB has no authority to upgrade a discharge for the sole purpose of enhancing reenlistment opportunities. An unfavorable “RE-CODE” is, in itself, not a bar to reenlistment. A request for a waiver can be submitted during the processing of a formal application for reenlistment through a recruiter.  

Medical Conditions and Misconduct: DoD disability regulations do not preclude a disciplinary separation. Appropriate regulations stipulate that separations for misconduct take precedence over potential separations for other reasons. Whenever a member is being processed through the Physical Evaluation Board, and is processed subsequently for an administrative involuntary separation or is referred to a court martial for misconduct, the disability evaluation is suspended pending the outcome of the non-disability proceedings. If the action includes either a punitive or administrative discharge for misconduct or for any basis wherein an Other Than Honorable discharge is authorized, the medical board report is filed in the member’s terminated health record. Additionally, the NDRB does not have the authority to change a narrative reason for separation to one indicating a medical disability or other medical related reasons. Only the BCNR can grant this type of narrative reason change.  

Automatic Upgrades: There is no law or regulation that provides for an unfavorable discharge to be upgraded based solely on the passage of time or good conduct subsequent to leaving naval service.  

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and/or Traumatic Brain Injury: For all claims involving PTSD and/or TBI, the NDRB’s review implemented the guidance set forth in the SECDEF Memorandum of 3 September 2014 (Supplemental guidance to Military Boards for Correction of Military/Naval Records Considering Discharge Upgrade Requests by Veterans Claiming Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and 25 august 2017 Clarifying Guidance to DRBs Considering Requests by Veterans for Modification of their Discharge Due to Mental Health Conditions, Sexual Assault, or Sexual Harassment. In accordance with U.S. Code, Title X, Section 1553 (d)(1) & d(2), the NDRB included a member who is a physician, clinical psychologist, or psychiatrist and accorded the case sufficient priority to achieve an expedited resolution and a final decision.

Post-Service Conduct: The NDRB is authorized to consider post-service factors in the recharacterization of a discharge. Outstanding post-service conduct, to the extent such matters provide a basis for a more thorough understanding of the Applicant’s performance and conduct during the period of service under review, is considered during Board reviews. Documentation to support a post-service conduct upgrade includes, but is not limited to: a verifiable continuous employment record; marriage and children’s birth certificates (if applicable); character witness statements; documentation of community or church service; certification of non-involvement with civil authorities; evidence of financial stability or letters of good standing from banks, credit card companies, or other financial institutions; attendance at or completion of higher education (official transcripts); and documentation of a drug-free lifestyle. The Applicant is advised that completion of these items alone does not guarantee the upgrade of an unfavorable discharge, as each discharge is reviewed by the Board on a case-by-case basis to determine if post-service accomplishments help demonstrate in-service misconduct was an aberration and not indicative of the member’s overall character.  

Issues Concerning Bad-Conduct Discharges (BCD): Because relevant and material facts stated in a court-martial specification are presumed by the NDRB to be established facts, issues relating to the Applicant’s innocence of charges for which he was found guilty cannot form a basis for relief. With respect to a discharge adjudged by a special court-martial, the action of the NDRB is restricted to upgrades based on clemency. Clemency is an act of leniency that reduces the severity of the punishment imposed. The NDRB does not have the jurisdictional authority to review a discharge or dismissal resulting from a general court-martial.  

Board Membership: The names and votes of the members of the NDRB Board are recorded on the original of this document and may be obtained from the service records by writing to: Secretary of the Navy Council of Review Boards, Attn: Naval Discharge Review Board, 720 Kennon Street SE Rm 309, Washington Navy Yard DC 20374-5023.  

Military Sexual Trauma: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) uses the term "military sexual trauma" (MST) to refer to experiences of sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment experienced while on federal active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training. To get confidential one-on-one help please contact the MST Coordinator at your nearest VA Medical Center or Call Safe Helpline at 1-877-995-5247 or visit  

Reporting Military Sexual Trauma: To report a military sexual trauma, you can make an anonymous report to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) by Text or Online. The NCIS Tip Line provides service members, veterans and civilians a safe, discreet and ANONYMOUS option to report criminal and force protection threats within the USN and USMC without concerns of retaliation.  To report a crime by Text: Text 274637 (CRIMES); Type “NCIS” at the top of the message; and include as much detail as possible to ensure your tip can effectively be investigated. To send your ANONYMOUS Tip via the online, go to

Suicide Prevention: Veterans in emotional crisis or their loved ones can call the free and confidential Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (then press 1); or chat online at, or send a text message to 838255 to connect with a caring, qualified Veteran Affairs Responder who can deal with any immediate crisis.