A former soldier must file his or her application for discharge upgrade within fifteen years from the date of discharge. The filing of the application initially is just a plain course of action. In the United States military, the method is to secure and fill out a DD Form 293, known as the 'Application for the Review of Discharge or Dismissal.' The DD Form 293 is also downloadable and can be taken from the US Armed Forces office and regional branches of the Veterans Administration. You should fill out the entire form conscientiously by typing or printing the required information. Affix copies of legal statements or pertinent records that are significant to your case. Submit or mail the accomplished DD Form 293 to the appropriate address on the flipside of the form. To make sure that your request for discharge upgrade will be approved, read on.
- Gather evidence and submit it. The panel that will deliberate your case will approve your request for discharge upgrade only if you can establish that your discharge is discriminatory or objectionable. Do this by supplying evidence, like signed statements from you and other witnesses or duplicates of records that support your issue. You should get in touch with your witnesses to get their signed statements with your request.
- Make comprehensive and clear statements. Carefully read the instructions on the reverse side of the DD Form 293 concerning your writing of statements of issues and follow it. Usually, the top evidence are statements from people who have direct knowledge or participation in your case. People like your supervisor, first sergeant, unit commander, or the chaplain. You must also settle on what evidence will best prop up your case. The panel scrutinizes issues with impartiality and respectability. The burden of proof is on you to establish that the discharge was unjust.
- Request assistance from relevant authorities. The panel can consider all discharges for upgrade with only some exceptions such as those resulting from a punitive discharge forced by court-martial. If your case is that multifaceted, you can request someone to stand up for you or help you with the paperwork like a member of a veteran service organization. Hiring a lawyer to represent you is also acceptable but entails expenses. You can also request guidance and advice from military personnel specialists.
- Request and make a personal appearance. If you want to, you may ask for a personal appearance by checking the correct box on DD Form 293. Prior to your appearance, you should go over the examiner's prior brief of your case. This contains the crucial facts of your case. If you fail to show up at the allotted time, either in person or by representative, without informing the panel for a timely request for a postponement, continuation, or withdrawal, you will be judged to have waived the right to a hearing, and the panel shall continue its review of the discharge. The panel might not grant you another hearing except if you can show that the failure to appear or answer was due to situations beyond your power.
Waiting to receive the panel's decision will take about 6 to 8 weeks. If your discharge is changed, you will be given a new discharge credential, a DD form 214, and the manuscript of the panel showing its decision. If you did not get that discharge upgrade, you will receive the manuscript of the panel stating the specific reasons and this will also state what appeal procedures are appropriate for you.