Officially, discharges range from Honorable, General, Other Than Honorable (a form of Administrative discharge), Clemency, or Punitive (which includes Bad Conduct and Dishonorable), detailed descriptions of which can found almost anywhere on the ‘net such as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_discharge. A General (under honorable conditions) characterization of discharge may jeopardize a member’s ability to benefit from the G.I. Bill even if they, in fact, had contributed. Moreover, the member will not normally be allowed to reenlist or enter a different military service.)
Regardless of your “official” discharge designation, it is a “spin code” on your DD214 that determines your eligibility for VA benefits and, from a prospective employer’s standpoint, employment potential. If you’re having problems obtaining employment after being even honorably discharged from the military, read on: http://www.landscaper.net/discharg.htm#List of Spin Codes
“Beginning JUNE 11, 1956, under D.O.D. Instruction 1336.3, DOD ordered the military departments to begin putting a coded number on the main employment reference document of veterans. This document known as the DD-214 is intended to be presented to employers by veterans seeking employment and benefits.”
“You must find out what your coded number is, remember, if you were discharged before 1974, you automatically have one, after 1974, it went on the other 8 or more copies of DD-214 (but where those “8 or more” copies are held has been VERY difficult to determine ~ Don Chapin), and your still dead meat.”
Each of the military branches has it’s own Separation And Retirement Manual and some of the codes may be slight deviations from our source, as well as reflecting that branch’s “leanings,” but, in general, the document linked below should be a good place to start your own inquiry.
Our list, Military Separation Codes, is from http://www.apfn.org/apfn/codes.htm
Other information sources:
Also note the document, Upgrading Your Military Discharge.
Branding a Soldier With ‘Personality Disorder’
Capt. Susan Carlson was not a typical recruit when she volunteered for the Army in 2006 at the age of 50. But the Army desperately needed behavioral health professionals like her, so it signed her up. Though she was, by her own account, “not a strong soldier,” she received excellent job reviews at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where she counseled prisoners. But last year, Captain Carlson, a social worker, was deployed to Afghanistan with the Colorado National Guard and everything fell apart. After a soldier complained that she had made sexually suggestive remarks, she was suspended from her counseling duties and sent to an Army psychiatrist for evaluation. His findings were shattering: She had, he said in a report, a personality disorder, a diagnosis that the military has used to discharge thousands of troops. She was sent home.
Vets Suffer as DD214 Errors Increase
Buffalo News | By Lou Michel | February 25, 2008
Vietnam Veterans, Discharged Under Cloud, File Suit Saying Trauma Was Cause
NEW HAVEN — In the summer of 1968, John Shepherd Jr. enlisted in the Army, figuring that the draft would get him anyway. By January 1969, he was in the Mekong Delta, fighting with the Ninth Infantry Division.
Christopher Capozziello for The New York Times
John Shepherd Jr. earned a Bronze Star in Vietnam but was given an undesirable discharge from the Army after refusing to go out on patrol. He now believes he had post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Within a month, his patrol was ambushed, and Mr. Shepherd responded by tossing a hand grenade into a bunker that killed several enemy soldiers. The Army awarded him a Bronze Star with a valor device, one of its highest decorations.
Yet the medal did little to assuage Mr. Shepherd’s sense of anxiousness and futility about the war. A few weeks after his act of heroism, he said, his platoon leader was killed by a sniper as he tried to help Mr. Shepherd out of a canal. It was a breaking point: his behavior became erratic, and at some point he simply refused to go on patrol.
The Guide for COs in the Military
Everyone has a conscience. Few people wrestle with their conscience as much as members of the military ‐ especially those in combat. If you are one of those people, this booklet is for you. This booklet is for those already in the military. If you are a conscientious objector facing draft registration, contact the Center on Conscience & War (CCW) at 800‐379‐ 2679 or visit our website1 for our booklet Conscientious Objectors and the Draft. We also address this topic in another section.
The Delayed Enlistment Program is an enlistment in the Inactive Reserves. Most people who enlist on active duty enlist first in the DEP while waiting to ship out to basic training. Anyone can request a discharge from the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP), and it is current Department of Defense (DOD) policy that such requests should be approved. You may have listen to your recruiter and his/her bosses trying to change your mind, but — if you stick to your guns — you will ultimately be discharged from the DEP. For details, see my DEP article. So, you ask, I signed the same contract and took the same oath when I entered the DEP, but anyone can request to be discharged from that program, but not active duty. What’s up with that? The difference is that it is current DOD POLICY to approve DEP discharge requests. The military doesn’t have to do so, if they don’t want to. The services do not let people out of active duty so easily. Once a person has gone onto active duty, the military services have invested a considerable amount of time and (tax-payer’s) money in their processing, pay, uniforms, transportation, and training. They want enough time to earn that investment back. For a bit more detail, see the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP) file.