George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School

M-VETS Prevails for Veteran at the Air Force Discharge Review Board

The Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic (M-VETS) successfully argued before the Air Force Discharge Review Board (AFDRB) on behalf of a client seeking to receive a change in the narrative reason for separation on a DD 214. The request, filed in 2018, was unanimously approved by the voting members of the AFDRB. The veteran will now be able to rejoin the military if desired.

The veteran was discharged from the U.S. Air Force in 2011 with an Honorable conditions discharge while the narrative reason for separation on the DD 214 stated, “Failure to Complete a Course of Instruction.” The DD 214 has been changed by the AFDRB to reflect the narrative reason for separation as “Secretarial Authority.”

A few months after the veteran’s discharge, the command responsible for the discharge was investigated for training discrepancies and leadership concerns. A Command Directed Investigation (CDI) concluded there was misconduct and unprofessional behavior by the commander. The AFDRB determined that the commander’s actions were arbitrary and capricious, which was substantiated by the CDI. Further, the AFDRB determined that actions by the commander constituted a clear abuse of authority and contributed to the decision to discharge the veteran and to the narrative reason for discharge. The AFDRB ruled that an inequity existed and relief was warranted!

M-VETS Director, Timothy M. MacArthur, stated about the matter: “I’m glad the veteran reached out to M-VETS and we were able to assist with this issue. Our client served honorably in the Air Force and was the victim of a toxic command. This was an important victory as the stigma of a negative narrative reason for separation can persist throughout the rest of a veteran’s lifetime.” MacArthur continued, “In my opinion, the designation of Secretarial Authority is significant in correcting this injustice as the Air Force acknowledged the mistake and provided a positive narrative reason for separation. Due to the lengthy process involved with litigating this issue, many M-VETS Student-Advisors worked diligently on this matter while in the clinic and their hard work paid off.”

“This news feels amazing. Not only is joining the National Guard or Reserves now an option, but I feel some restoration of dignity. What I knew to be true has now been confirmed in a unanimous vote by my Air Force peers,” said the veteran.

M-VETS assists veterans, servicemembers, and their dependents in a variety of civil matters, including uncontested divorces, landlord/tenant matters, consumer protection and contract disputes, as well as in military/VA administrative matters, including MEB/PEBs, discharge upgrades, Boards for Correction of Military Records and VA disability compensation appeals.