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My stepson was given a dishonorable discharge from the USN…

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Hello, My stepson was given a...
Hello,
My stepson was given a dishonorable discharge from the USN approximately 8 years ago. He started out at boot camp in Illinois and moved to nuclear power school in Charleston SC. During this time he was was selected for Officer training and was sent to San Diego CA. He had been there a very short time, attending college and training. He made a very stupid mistake one day, lied to his commanding officer and left base to fly to Springfield Mo to see his girlfriend who was attending college at the time. In less than a year he was given a Dishonorable Discharge and Court Marshal which has caused a great burden on his life. Is there anything that can be done to reverse this decision or change his status with the Navy?
Submitted: 5 years ago.Category: Military Law
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Answered in 2 hours by:
9/2/2012
Military Lawyer: P. Simmons, Military Lawyer replied 5 years ago
P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Military Lawyer
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 37,254
Experience: Retired Marine Corps lawyer and Veterans Services Officer (VSO) with 12+ yrs. of experience.
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Thanks for the chance to help. I am an attorney with over 12 years military law experience.
A Dishonorable Discharge is a very serious punishment that can only be awarded a General Court Martial (GCM) This is the Military version of a felony trial.
What you describe does not sound like something that would go to a GCM.
Are you sure that there is not more to the story?
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Customer reply replied 5 years ago

I am actually pretty sure this is what happened. I communicated with one Ross Nicewanger of the USN during my stepson's stay in San Diego. He was Robb's liasion or officer in charge or whatever his title was at that time. He informed me that Robb was going to be meeting with officers about his conduct regarding leaving for a few days, along with misinforming his superiors and the next thing my wife and I knew he was out of the Navy. I know he was going through some emotional issues with his girlfriend but never did Lieutenant Nicewanger inform me of any court martial proceedings.

Military Lawyer: P. Simmons, Military Lawyer replied 5 years ago
Thank you
As I mention, a General Court Martial is a very serious form of punishment. Reserved for felony misconduct. IT is seldom used for minor misconduct...and what you describe sure sounds like minor misconduct.
So I would venture to guess that one of two things has happened.
1. There is more to the story...that there is more misconduct than a simple false statement. If this case is about lying to a commander, I would expect it to be resolved administratively, likely through what is called Mast or Article 15, Non Judicial Punishment. Please do not get me wrong, that is misconduct and it is something that is punished...just not at a general court.
2. This was punished at Mast and the sailor was separated administratively with an "other than honorable" conditions discharge. And OTH is not a good thing. Folks often refer to it as a Dishonorable Discharge. But it is not the same. An OTH is an administrative separation. It is not awarded at a criminal court martial but at administrative hearing. It is similar to being fired from a job.
I bet that is what happened...I bet of you look at the discharge, you will see an OTH characterization and not a Dishonorable Discharge. You can look at his DD214 (separation certificate) and will tell you what type of discharge was awarded.
Now...on to your questions
Can you change it
If it was an OTH, that is difficult. The only way to change the characterization is to show that either the Navy did not follow the rules in awarding the OTH (like, for example, they did not give him the opportunity for a hearing) or if they can show that the characterization was inappropriate. But this is tough, since if they can show misconduct, an OTH is appropriate.
So an OTH is tough to change
Strangely, if it was a DD? Then he may have a better chance. The standard is the same...he must show that either the Navy did not follow the rules in awarding the DD (that is not easy...since there was a court and a judge and an automatic appeal) or if they can show that the characterization was inappropriate. And that would be the focus. A DD for lying to a commander on one occasion is, I think, excessive.
So if he truly received a DD for lying one time? Then I would file a request to change.
The process is straightforward for either.
YOu start here
Link text
To have the greatest chance for success you should consider working with an attorney that can help you assemble the package you will submit. A google search under "military lawyer upgrade discharge" will net you several prospects...I would talk to several to see if one can be of help...but understand this is a long shot...beware of promises.
The one thing the lawyer can help with is organizing the information you have to put it into a "package" that will make it easy for the board to see your points. This can be a very valuable service.
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