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2.3. DD-214 Challenging Your Character of Discharge
Eligibility for many VA benefits, including disability compensation and NSC pension, require that you separated from active service with an honorable discharge. A less than honorable discharge may result in your being barred from such benefits. The Departments of the Army, Air Force, and Navy (which includes the Marine Corps), and the Coast Guard each have their own discharge review boards (DRB). The DRBs have the authority to modify or correct any discharge or dismissal from the service, unless it was the result of a general court martial. DRBs, however, have no jurisdiction over medical discharges. If you believe that your character of discharge (e.g., dishonorable, other than honorable, general) was made in error, you may request a discharge review using DD Form 293 ("Application for Review of Discharge or Separation from the Armed Forces of the United States/Application for the Review of Discharge or Dismissal from the Armed Forces of the United States"). The request can also be filed by your next-of-kin or a legal representative. The deadline for filing an application for a DRB review is within 15 years after separation from active service.
Each service department also has a Boards of Correction for Military Records (BCMR). Review by a BCMR is available if an application for a discharge review is received within three years of your reasonable discovery of the error (i.e., when your should have discovered the error, as opposed to when you actually discovered it). You should, however, first apply to the DRB if your DRB 15-year application period has not expired. Please see your service department website for BCMR application forms and procedures.