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Washington D.C. Military Records Correction Attorneys

What is the Board for Correction of Military Records?

Whether a service member or a veteran, it is vitally important that your military records are accurate. Service records impact the ability of military personnel, whether serving on active duty, in the Reserves or in the Guard, to be promoted, to continue to serve or to qualify for benefits like the GI Bill. For veterans, inaccurate records can hamper employment opportunities and limit the ability to access services provided by the Veterans Administration. Inaccurate or unjust information can also diminish a veteran’s view of their self-worth by unfairly tainting their record with derogatory information.

Fortunately, there are ways to correct military records to accurately reflect your service to the country. Federal law has established boards for each service empowered to correct “errors” or “injustices” in military records. The boards can correct a wide range of errors including issues with:

  • Decorations and Awards
  • Performance Evaluations and Derogatory Information
  • Disabilities
  • Promotions and Rank
  • Separation and Discharges

There are three established boards tasked with reviewing applications for records corrections:

  • Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records (AFBCMR)
  • Army Board for Correction of Military Records (ABCMR)
  • Board for Correction of Naval Records (BCNR)

Current and former members of the Space Force submit applications to the AFBCMR and Marines apply to the BCNR.

How Can I correct my Military Records?

Applications to correct service records are made using the DD Form 149, Application for the Correction of Military Records. An experienced attorney can be invaluable in this process to ensure the strongest possible argument for relief and to understand the legal pitfalls. The boards require the petitioner prove they have exhausted all administrative remedies before applying to the board. Absent such evidence, the board will return the application. Each service has unique requirements on what steps an applicant must take to exhaust administrative recourse before going to the board. For example, the Army requires soldiers to appeal “unfavorable information” in the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) to the Department of Army Suitability Evaluation Board (DASEB) prior to applying to the ABCMR.

In addition to exhausting administrative remedies, the application must be timely. The application must be filed within three years of the error or injustice being discovered. The board can excuse an untimely filing in the interest of justice, but every effort should be made to file within the three years as the board does not have to allow an untimely application. Different rules apply for discharge upgrades. If it has been less than 15 years since you were discharged, you must first apply to the service’s Discharge Review Board. If 15 years have passed or the Review Board has denied your application, you can then apply to the BCMR or BCNR.

To prevail, the application and supporting documents must demonstrate the records contain an error or an injustice. The burden to prove the error or injustice is on the petitioner. The actions of the service are presumed to be correct, so the petitioner must overcome this presumption. The failure to overcome the presumption of regularity is fatal to the application. In addition to the DD Form 149, the petitioner may submit a statement of no more than 25 double spaced pages and any supporting documents such as witness statements and investigations.

The board will give special consideration for discharge upgrades for veterans claiming PTSD or TBI, veterans seeking discharge modifications due to mental health conditions, sexual assault or sexual harassment and those seeking relief regarding equity, injustice or clemency. Additionally, veterans discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) can seek changes to the narrative reasons of discharge, characterizations of discharges and re-entry codes.

Once the application is received, the board may receive an advisory opinion from offices of primary responsibility on whether the application should be approved or disapproved. The petitioner will be provided a copy of an adverse recommendation and had 30 days to submit a response. The board will then vote to either approve or disapprove the application.

If the board does not approve the application, the petitioner may ask for reconsideration within a year by submitting new evidence. Failure to submit evidence not previously considered by the board will result in the board denying the request. If the board does not grant relief, a suit may be brought in federal court.

There are limits to what the board can do. For example, the board cannot award monetary damages, nor can the board change the findings of a court-martial. The board may only consider clemency on a court-martial sentence. Still, the boards are incredible opportunity to make sure your records accurately reflect your service.

To speak with our skilled BCMR attorneys, call (866) 833-3529 or send us a message online.


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