Fixing Errors in Your Military Record
When departing from the military it is obligatory to meet with a military personnel clerk and review your DD Form 214 thoroughly. This is to confirm everything is in order and correct before signing it. If, later on, you realize a mistake was made, it is possible to fix these errors.
The Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR) orchestrates records correctives. Each service has its own BCMR and the Navy reestablishes the board for sailors and Marines. Board members consist of high-ranking civilian employees of the service and are allocated by the secretary of the service. Board members are assigned to three-person panels and these panels are responsible for deciding the cases.
Knowing the grounds for requesting a change
When applying for a change in a military record, the veteran must persuade the board that the material in their record is incorrect or that it has caused injustice in some way.
- In error suggests the information provided in a veteran’s record is incorrect. An example of this would be a record showing 20 months of service when the veteran performed 26 months of service.
- Injustice would if a letter of reprimand or a report of negative performance written by a military supervisor who showed an agenda of ill will toward the veteran.
If an error is discovered it would be prudent to submit a request for change within three years of discovering the issue as the board considers the untimely submission unfavorably. The board has the ability to waive a veteran’s untimeliness, but this is also not advisable to take longer than needed.
Submitting the proper paperwork
When requesting an altercation in military records, individuals must submit their request by using the DD Form 149, Application for Correction of Military Record. This form is available at VA offices (see appendix B for locations). Mail the completed form to the correct board address listed on the second page of the form.
You can visit this site for the application as well: www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/infomgt/forms/eforms/dd0149.pdf.
Your statement in this form is important so it is good to take extra caution when completing the DD Form 149. Make sure copies of statements or appropriate records are attached to your case. If your form contains an error concerning active-duty service time, be sure to include copies of your military orders that placed you on active duty.
What you write in your own statement is also paramount, starting with item 9 of DD Form 149 and continuing to item 17 if needed. It is also acceptable to write your statement on plain paper and attach it separately. Discuss the details of what happened and why the error or injustice occurred in clear terms, limiting yourself to no more than 25 pages.
Submitting support from individuals in your rating chain if being contested for performance is the most adequate evidence in terms of witness statements you can provide. A statement from any personnel who counseled you would be another example if alleging improper counseling.
The decision to correct a veteran’s military record is based exclusively on the merit of the documentation they provide and how the board judges the claim. The board members are the only capable authority to correct or change a military record. If applying for a military record correction remember to include full statements and contact information; providing only contact information will not be sufficient as it is not the responsibility of the board to contact them.
Understanding the advisory opinion
The advisory opinion is organized for a given case after the submission is received and sent to the board. The application is organized for the case by one or more offices within the individual’s service, such as Judge Advocate General’s office, military hospital, or personnel center. If denial of request is recommended in the advisory opinion it is sent to the submitter making the claim for review and comment.
The board is the organization in charge of making the decision and the advisory opinion is just that: an opinion. If unsatisfied with the results 30 days remain in which the veteran can submit their comments in response to the advisory opinion. An extra 30 days may be requested if needed.
If comments are not provided in response to an advisory opinion it does not mean the individual agrees with the opinion but it doesn’t stop a just evaluation of an application either. Unless the veteran has nothing to respond with in regard to the opinion it may be unnecessary for them to comment.
Unless the veteran decides to sue the DOD in federal court there is no appeal if the board denies the request. The board may be willing to reconsider the case if newly information is illuminated that the veteran was unaware of at the time of the initial application.