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Character of discharge

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17to60s

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Hello.  I've been working to get a favorable character of discharge decision, off and on, for over 12 years.

I joined the navy about a month after my 17th birthday in the late 1970s.

I had some mental health issues when I was around 10 yo, depression, after my father's death. 

I did mark this down on my 1st entry exam.  I was deemed fit for duty and entered service.

I scored high on my asvab marks, 93, and chose to be an FTM in advanced electronics.

I had one and a half years of schooling, during which I had no disciplinary issues, completed my training, and recieved high marks and promotions. 

During this time, I had many health issues, including infections, gastro/gerd issues, and a fall while on duty which caused lower back injury. I also had a severe reaction to steroid treatments for a skin issue, for which I ended up in the ER.

It also caused me to experience my first of many manic episodes.

Despite this, I finished my schooling and was assigned to a ship.

After the transfer, I again had mental health issue which became overwhelming after 6 months on board.

I was sent home on leave, but didn't return.  After 6+ months I was returned, and went to a special court martial.

I was told I could avoid trial by taking an oth discharge, but I wanted to continue in service.

Eventually, I was returned to the same ship where I'd had trouble before.

We went to sea for a year and a half, including service in Lebanon in 1983.

After a change in command, the shipboard environment became very toxic, and I was assaulted multiple times, being knocked out twice.

After we returned, and right after the second time I'd been ko'd, I was given 2.0s across the board, had my FTM designator removed and was reassigned to the mess deck, due to an inability to perform my FTM duties anymore.

A couple months later, I was written up for not getting up for a urine test during the night. I just couldn't get up.

This was used to have me discharged for a pattern of misconduct, with an OTH.

Years later, when I applied for healthcare, I was denied vet status due to an awol of over 180 days. (197)

This is a statutory bar.

However, I've maintained that I was not discharged as a result of my awol, but for a pattern of misconduct years later.  This is a regulatory bar, and I would at least be able to access healthcare.

I also showed that I was diagnosed with depression in the last year of my service, endorsed depression, excessive worry, sleep disruptions, and nervous troubles on my exit exam. I also endorsed head injuries.

I have provided 3 separate IMOs, including 2 that say it's more than likely that my Bipolar disorder began in service, prior to my awol. My therapist stated it was more likely than not that my Bipolar disorder caused me to exhibit mental health symptoms that lead to a prolonged deviations from my normal behaviour.

I have been denied several times now, yet, not once has the VA addressed or refuted any of my IMOs, evidence in my service records, lay statements from my brother and sister, or any other evidence.

My last supplemental specifically stated that I met the VA definition of insane.  I pointed to all the evidence in support, the VAs definition of Insanity, and federal and agency statements and decisions that state that the benefit of the doubt extends to COD determinations.

The VA simply said that the evidence of record shows I was sane.

The point to no such evidence, and make no reference to any of the evidence I've supplied.

My local DAV rep says the VA doesn't have to do during a COD determination, what they do during a claim adjudication. 

I know this is wrong. the VA has never called me/talked to me in over 12 years.  Despite all the evidence, I've never been given an exam.

Am I wrong? Can the VA disregard my medical evidence? Can they dismiss my medical evidence, based on their own opinion?

Doesn't the VA have to show what evidence they use against me, if it exists?

Isn't it a CUE that they are denying me based on the awol, even though I was not discharged for that, but years later? 

My dd214 clearly states it was due to a pattern of misconduct. Separation code HKA, and narrative both show pattern of misconduct.

Doesn't an IMO stating that my Bipolar disorder symptoms arose before my awol, and caused me to deviate from my normal method of behaviour, meet the VA definition for insanity?

I look forward to any useful comments.

Thank you.

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8 hours ago, 17to60s said:

Am I wrong?

I may be wrong, but I think you are fighting the wrong fight. Instead of dealing with the VA, you need to get a discharge upgrade. I had to fill out a DD 149 to get some medals added to my records that the VA said I did not get after they denied a bunch of my claims. The medals proved that my special forces duties were included for special consideration.  So, it has been quite some time, but I think the better route is to request a discharge upgrade from the Discharge Board. Make sure you send it to the correct address. I think it took about a year before I got my DD 215 and my military awards. 

As far as I know the VA will not do anything about your discharge and it is not a CUE. At the present, the VA has determined that you are not eligible for benefits, and you will need proof that you are, and an upgrade discharge could do that. If I am wrong or off someone will chime in and correct me. Hope the best. 

Defense Finance and Accounting Service > correctmilitaryrecords (dfas.mil)

DD Form 149, "APPLICATION FOR CORRECTION OF MILITARY RECORD
UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF TITLE 10, U.S. CODE, SECTION 1552" (whs.mil)

Edited by pacmanx1
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Yes, you need a discharge upgrade.  PTSD/depression and other mental health disorders were sometimes not diagnosed until later, OR, the military sometimes hands out bad discharges erroneously because the Veteran actually had PTSD.  

One source to get help is the NVLSP.  If I recall correctly, NVLSP at one time, or still does, COD (character of discharge) cases pro bono.  You will have to contact them to find out.  Or, they may be able to refer you to someone else.

contact them :

https://www.nvlsp.org/

OR try: 

https://www.nvlsp.org/what-we-do/lawyers-serving-warriors/

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I got a discharge upgrade about a year after I was discharged.  This was during the Vietnam War.  I think you do need to apply for the discharge upgrade.  If you can get help via any organization I would definitely get it.  Ask for a personal hearing so they can see you.  I had a hearing and had a very good rep at the time from the Red Cross believe or not.  When I got my hearing there were civilians on the hearing board.  I don't know if this still applies but that is why I got the upgrade . The military types just are usually unwilling to change discharges and have all kinds of discharges.

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