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Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 20400
Experience:  Licensed attorney and former Navy JAG serving ashore, afloat and at the OJAG
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I was convicted of extended AWOL in 1970, once discharged I

Customer Question

I was convicted of extended AWOL in 1970, once discharged I met the guidelines of the clemency discharge signed by Gerald Ford.
JA: OK. The Military Lawyer will need to help you with this. Because laws vary from state to state, could you tell me what state is this in?
Customer: I am in California now but was assigned to a base in New Mexico when I went AWOL and spent most of my incarceration in Colorado where I was discharged and where I satisfied the clemency requirements.
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer yet?
Customer: No I did years ago approach the vets administration but was told I should use the clemency discharge as toilet paper and was led to believe I would not be eligible for any bebefits.
JA: Anything else you think the lawyer should know?
Customer: I have not had any legal problems in the civilian world as I am now 69 years old and have always wanted to pursue any resolution but....
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Military Lawyer about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Military Law
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 1 year ago.
Hello,Thank you for the information (I see that you have posted it twice, but it is only necessary to post once and then when someone is available, they will let you know). In any event, I will need to know what your actual legal question is. (I apologize for the Site autobot that entered into a "conversation" with you previously. The Experts on the Site are not employees of the Site so we have no control over how the Site engages the customer initially. In any event, I am a real person and as soon as you can tell me what your question is, I can assist you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Well as I previously stated I did try to approach the VA at one point many years ago and was dismissed. I wonder if I can restore my benefits.
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 1 year ago.
Alright, well, it wasn't entirely clear that you were asking if you were eligible for VA benefits. But, unfortunately, you are not. The clemency discharge that you received is considered a "neutral" discharge, essentially uncharacterized. It is neither an Honorable discharge or an Other than Honorable. There have been numerous court decisions that have held that this particular action by President Ford did not result in overriding the underlying misconduct for reasons of VA benefit determinations. This is a link to one of the cases that was decided on this issue back in the 70's and is still good law:'%20BENEFITSThis is a discussion by the SSA about Social Security issues, but that also touches on the issue of VA benefits: is a link to a 2014 case where suit was filed to challenge the VA's decision denying benefits in this circumstance: As you can see from reading these resources, the law is unfavorable and there is no real chance to reverse the decision of the VA to deny benefits. I wish the news was better, but I can only be honest with you and tell you what the law is. Please feel free to ask for clarification after you have read the information at the links I provided. If none is necessary, then if you could please take a moment to leave a positive rating in the box above, so that I will receive credit for assisting you today. Thank you.
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 1 year ago.
Hello again,I wanted to touch base with you and make sure that you did not have any follow up questions for me from the answer I provided to you on the 19th. For some reason, the Experts are not always getting replies or ratings (at the top of the question/answer page you are viewing or in the pop up box for this question), which is how we get credit(paid by the Site) for our work, that the customer thinks have gone through. In your case I received neither. Please keep in mind that I cannot control the law or your circumstances, and am ethically bound to provide you with accurate information based on the facts you give me even if the news is not good. If you are having technical difficulties with reading, replying or rating,please let me know so that I can inform the Site administrator.Please note that Site use works best while using a computer and using either Google Chrome or Firefox. In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue,if needed. You can bookmark my page at: you.