There are two different review boards that may upgrade a military discharge. Before discussing the differences between the Military Discharge Review Board and the Board For Correction of Military Records, it is important to understand what these boards are able to do for a veteran.
Both boards provide an administrative law procedure whereby a military board (comprised of either civilian or military officials) may change the reason for discharge, character of service, or other aspects of military records. Each branch of service has its own Military Discharge Review Board and Board For Corrections of Military Records.
Generally speaking, both boards are less favorable to a veteran then the VA board for correction, and the likelihood of success without an attorney or advocate is slim. The review process can take one – two years and the success rate is low, but chances improve if the veteran personally appears. On the positive side, the rules of evidence do not apply to these boards and therefore it is much easier for a veteran to introduce supporting evidence.
The Military Discharge Review Board is made up of five military officers. If a veteran applies to this board, the application must be received within 15 years of the veterans discharge date. This review board has the power to upgrade the character of service (except for those given as a result of a court-marshall) and to change the narrative reason for discharge. The board makes its decision based on documentary review of existing records and evidence submitted by the veteran. If turned down, the veteran may request a personal hearing.
The Board of Correction of Military Records is made up of three civilian members. If a veteran applies to this board, the application must generally be received within 3 years of the veteran’s discharge date. This review board has greater power then the Discharge Review Board, and may change a discharge in any manner, including court-marshalls, and dishonorable discharges. The board makes its decision based on documentary evidence, and if turned down the veteran may apply, but not necessarily be granted, a personal appearance.