Director of Veterans Affairs
Public Counsel’s Center for Veterans’ Advancement is hosting remote legal services for active duty military discharge upgrade assistance. All legal services are free and will be provided with the support of volunteer attorneys and law clerks. After an initial assessment, remote assistance could include Veterans working with a pro bono attorney (e.g., by phone, mail, and/or internet-based services) to fill out the discharge upgrade application, draft a personal statement and review applicable records. The veteran is advised to collect any relevant records. A confidential online intake is required at: https://form.jotform.com/200965124821047. It should not take no than 10-15 minutes. For more information or intake help, veterans may contact the Center for Veterans’ Advancement at 213-385-2977 ext. 304.
Countless veterans who experienced extreme stress and other hardships in the military, including combat or sexual trauma, deployment, and physical or mental injuries, are unfavorably discharged. Unfavorable discharges are less than fully Honorable, and may include General Under Honorable, Other Than Honorable, Bad Conduct or Dishonorable. These unfavorable discharges are often the result of natural behavioral responses to trauma or hardships, yet are perceived as misconduct. The consequences and negative stigma of their discharge are long-lasting because these veterans are often excluded from life-changing benefits such as education services, disability compensation, housing assistance, and health care. Consequently, these veterans are more likely to fall into homelessness, be unemployed or underemployed, have chronic mental health issues, have involvement in the criminal justice system, and die by suicide. These are veterans most in need of support so that the applicable military review board can reconsider their service and mitigating circumstances to grant a discharge upgrade. With an upgrade, the veteran could have better chances to gain access benefits that can meaningfully stabilize their life. Engaging in the application process can also help veterans restore their integrity and dignity.