George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School

M-VETS Prevails and Secures Honorable Discharge for Army Combat Veteran

The Mason Veterans and Servicemembers Legal Clinic (M-VETS) successfully argued before the Army Discharge Review Board for an Army Combat veteran to receive a fully Honorable conditions discharge.  Filed in 2019, the M-VETS request was recently approved by the Army Discharge Review Board and the veteran now has a fully Honorable conditions discharge reflected on the veteran’s DD 214.

The veteran served on active duty in the Army from 2001 through 2015 and, during this period of time, the veteran deployed overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom a total of four times.  The veteran served three combat tours in Iraq, one combat tour in Afghanistan, and was awarded the Combat Action Badge for the veteran’s actions overseas.  After the veteran returned from the combat deployments, the veteran began suffering from symptoms of Post-traumatic stress and Traumatic Brain Injury.  The veteran began to self-medicate with alcohol to try and soothe these symptoms. This self-medication led to a misdemeanor DUI charge that resulted in the veteran’s discharge from active duty with a General, Under Honorable conditions discharge for misconduct.

At the time of discharge, unfortunately, the veteran’s chain of command did not realize the veteran was suffering from Post-traumatic stress, Traumatic Brain Injury, and was self-medicating to ease the symptoms of these conditions.  Additionally, in the veteran’s separation paperwork it was incorrectly noted that the veteran had a serious pending civilian criminal charge off the installation during his separation proceedings. In order to correct these errors, M-VETS enlisted the assistance of the GMU Center for Psychological Services and requested the veteran’s complete criminal history from the FBI.

M-VETS Director, Timothy M. MacArthur, stated about the matter: “We are very appreciative of the efforts of the GMU Center for Psychological Services, as they were able to evaluate our client and show the veteran’s actions were the result of self-medicating due to PTS and TBI which we were able to successfully argue before the Army Discharge Review Board.  Also, we were able to provide the board a copy of the FBI’s findings concerning our client’s lack of a criminal history to dispute the administrative error in the separation paperwork that there was a very serious civilian criminal charge pending against our client at the time of discharge from the Army.  Someone made a serious error by including a criminal charge against our client that was not accurate and was likely about another soldier who was being separated at the same time as our client.  The false charge was of such a serious nature that it likely influenced the chain of command’s recommendation for a General discharge for our client.  Thankfully, with the FBI’s criminal history report we were able to show the board that our client had never been charged with a civilian crime and the discharge paperwork was in error, resulting in an inequitable discharge.”

“I want to thank the M-VETS team for all that you’ve done for me,” said the veteran.

MacArthur continued, “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 Army and to be able to correct this injustice before it potentially caused more roadblocks was a great result. A veteran’s DD 214 is a very important document as it can serve as the basis for eligibility for a variety of services and it should be accurate and reflect the true character of a veteran’s service while on active duty.”

MacArthur emphasized the contributions of the student-advisors that worked on this matter.  “Throughout the course of M-VETS representation, many student-advisors assisted with the client’s matter and I am very appreciative of the time and effort they put into this case,” MacArthur said.   “The student-advisors worked diligently on this matter and their hard work paid off.”

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.