Forms of Military Discharge

Forms of Military Discharge

Many people are under the impression that military discharge comes in one of two forms: honorable or dishonorable. If an enlisted person received less than an honorable discharge they are often under the impression that they received a dishonorable discharge. However, to be clear, you would absolutely know if you received a dishonorable discharge… it is designed to ruin your life ever after and is often accompanied by an extensive visit to a military prison.

There are Two Forms of Military Discharge

1. Administrative – This form of discharge is given by the discharge authority, often a commanding officer of high rank.

2. Punitive – This form of discharge is imposed by a court-martial.

Administrative Discharges

For those who receive an administrative discharge there are four:

1. Honorable Discharge
Almost all enlisted receive an honorable discharge once their service ends. This means your met the standards of conduct and performance while enlisted and that your service was meritorious so as to receive a medal for bravery or valor. You could have disciplinary action on your record but if you received a medal for valor on the battlefield it may still get you off with an honorable discharge.

2. General Discharge (under honorable conditions)
This is often referred to as a general discharge and is bestowed upon those whose serve was faithful and honest in spite of some trouble—as determined by the commander. You might receive this discharge if you were discharged on the basis of:

  • failure to maintain military standards in weight
  • failure to maintain military standards in fitness
  • failure to maintain military standards in dress
  • failure to maintain military standards in appearance
  • failure to progress in your training
  • you received minor disciplinary infractions

3. Other Than Honorable Discharge
Of all the administrative discharges this is the worst. This is warranted if your discharge was for a pattern of bad behavior. This can include:

  • a pattern of continued misconduct
  • an act of serious misconduct
  • abuse of authority
  • fraternization

Anyone who receives a court-martial conviction without punitive discharges is given this discharge characterization.

4. Entry-level Separation
This form of discharge has no characterization. It is not honorable or general. It can be granted by a commander for members who were in the military for less than 180 days. In other words it is for those who tried but could not make it during basic training and immediately after.

Punitive Discharges

A punitive discharge can only be imposed by a court-martial. Summary courts do not have the authority to impose a punitive discharge. However, your commanding officer can decide to initiate an administrative discharge proceeding separately if you are convicted of an offense by a court martial.

There are three types of punitive discharges:

1. Bad Conduct Discharge
This discharge can be imposed by a special court or general court. It is given as part of a court punishment to enlisted personnel only. Officers cannot receive this discharge. It is often given for conviction of:

  • absent without leave
  • drunk on duty
  • driving while under the influence
  • adultery
  • disorderly conduct
  • bad checks

2. Dismissal
When you are an officer you can be dismissed from military service. This discharge can be imposed by a special or general court and is often enforced alongside the maximum punishment as listed by the Manual for Courts Martial. It is an officer version of a bad conduct discharge.

3. Dishonorable Discharge
This type of discharge is the worst anyone in the military can receive. It can only be given by a general court-martial for the highest of offenses which are often accompanied by a prison sentence in a military prison.

  • Karl Reussner
    Posted at 18:51h, 25 February Reply

    I was railroaded out of the active duty coast guard back in 1984 i served 3.5 years of nat guard back in the 20000s with an re4 dishargeed in 2004 with an lbk code since then never heard of a code of that type any ideas

    Posted at 07:56h, 28 October Reply

    If you need information on a family member you can google the military records division address in St. Loius, Mo. You can only get an honorable discharge if you fulfilled your commitment with the military honorably. If you can’t maintain your profile it means a general discharge. If you commit an offense like drugs, You will be tried and punished for a minor offense like missing a formation and already received an article 15 in the past you might get a Special Courts-Martial and light sentence of 6 months and a Bad Conduct Discharge. If the penalty is a year or more like for use of drugs like felony cocaine then it’s a Dishonorable Discharge.

  • Willard Wehner
    Posted at 22:40h, 26 October Reply

    You are wasting your time trying to change your discharge, I was railroaded because the Captain didn’t like me, The court martial I didnt even try to defend myself. The LT came out and told me that the Captain ordered him to find me guilty and wanted me off the ship. Kangaroo court.

  • Charris D. Mcneal
    Posted at 01:15h, 13 May Reply

    Thank’s You Service…

  • Stephanie Mitchell
    Posted at 06:53h, 17 March Reply

    How do I find out about my deceased father’s discharge. On his separation paper it says bad conduct discharge. But I also have a paper that he had an honorable discharge. When he passed he had all benefits. I want to know what happened on this bad conduct discharge from the Navy in world war two. His name was Francis Stanley Hanson s2c .

  • Natasja Janda
    Posted at 01:13h, 25 January Reply

    What about a medical discharge? Specifically, what are the consequences of accepting a non-service-related disability separation because nobody would do an L.O.D. for me; instead of fighting to be granted the service-related disability?

  • Christopher Kinsella
    Posted at 00:18h, 14 January Reply

    You can’t get a General Discharge for being Overweight in the Army, the only option for a chapter 18 is Honorable. AR 635-200 para 18-2e “The service of those separated per this chapter will be characterized as honorable, unless an uncharacterized description of service is required for Soldiers in entry-level status.”

  • ernest alfinez
    Posted at 00:27h, 31 October Reply

    I retired in 2002 from the us navy and i work now for usps and getting ready to finally retire from the usps and i am getting my paperwork together for retirement and come to find out i have a discrepancy were as my entry date should have been 1982 is now in my DD-214 as 1987 as this might delay my retirement till i fix this date who can i contact any suggestions please advise thank you…..

  • melvin smith
    Posted at 21:27h, 03 September Reply

    Define the discharge term “Under Honorable Conditions”
    Is this an Honorable Discharge?

  • Nancy Fieste
    Posted at 21:04h, 29 March Reply

    How do I know on the DD214 that my husband was honorably discharged because of a disability?

  • Michael Thornsberry
    Posted at 02:50h, 08 March Reply

    How do I go about getting my enlistment picture from the Air Force? when I enlisted in 1976.

  • Darlene M Roye
    Posted at 15:47h, 15 October Reply

    Hi This sadden me to think back to My Uncle Death and our last word Was I Love You and thanks for taking Care of me, He said I Love You too He’s many things too so many people but to me that Man taught me how to be a strong Independent Woman, turn No into Yes and if You didn’t earn it it’s not your. . lol and Mommy may have daddy many have but GOD Bless the Child that have it’s Owns. But today I need help f on his Miltary family..Our home Church is over 200 Years old but in that Church on the wall is Picture of all the Members That Served in the Many branches of The Military my family So the help I need . is my Uncle Picture of him taken in his Miltary hat, clothes what ever … .to Place on that wall in Deltaville, Frist Baptist Church of Amburg before they changed it to Deltaville email address is ….any help or advise is greatly appreciated we still serving our country even when we die

  • Tammie Davies Mallory
    Posted at 16:18h, 16 September Reply

    My father was in the Navy in the 60s. He is now deceased and I am looking for a copy of his fingerprint. I was told they take them when the first enter the service but no one can tell me who to contact to see about getting a copy. Please help.

  • c lee
    Posted at 17:58h, 01 May Reply

    what is an undesirable discharge?

  • Stephen
    Posted at 02:04h, 10 March Reply

    Has Anyone Ever Heard Of A ”Good Of The Service Discharge” In The Marines….I Can’t Find Any Information About That Type Of Discharge….ThanX For Your Help

  • Tejas
    Posted at 01:56h, 27 January Reply

    So my grandson shows up today, says he was released by the airforce as honorable discharge but will not say 100% exactly what for. Searching costs me my dime but I want the truth! How can I find out an easier way, im 82 now and I feel this is something I need to get to the bottom of before im gone. All these websites want this or that my credit card #s I feel that is a rip off

    can anyone help or point me in the right direction?

    • Matt Terry
      Posted at 19:17h, 23 April Reply

      Contact the Veterans Affairs office nearest you for the answers you seek.


  • Krystal
    Posted at 20:22h, 05 January Reply

    How do I get a copy of my OTH discharge disposition. I need it in order to take boards to get my license for nursing. Any help is appreciated.

    • Matt Terry
      Posted at 19:35h, 23 April Reply


      Contact the Veterans Affairs office nearest you for the answers you seek.


  • Sherry
    Posted at 22:21h, 25 October Reply

    My husband was in the Air forces some years back and he has misplaced his discharge papers .can someone please explain what needs to be done in order to obtain a copy of all his military records .Thanks

  • Irving
    Posted at 17:01h, 25 September Reply

    Trying to find help to file for a discharge upgrade.

  • Edward blassingame sr
    Posted at 02:29h, 18 May Reply

    I filled a form9 in March 214 sdf 9 the rquires the VA answer in rebuttal or agreement with said request for disability and benefits awarded. My was simple all they was sign off for the paperwork to processed. It is a very simple all my “I” my “t” crossed they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars illegally withholding my Disability and benefits when was cheaper to pay me whatever they owe me then to get innocent people in troubles helping them. I one legitimate reason for withholding my disability and benefits, but I heard plenty bigoted and racial overtones. I have no beef with them.Just what and due so can move and my granddaughters growup

  • Nicole Tucker
    Posted at 15:18h, 13 September Reply

    I would like to request a copy of my dd214 I served in october 2008to october 2012

  • Judee Martz
    Posted at 20:16h, 21 April Reply

    My husband was in the Marines, I think corporal 1st class for 4 years. He is deceased and I wanted to get his discharge information and his dd214. How do I go about that?

  • william james johnson
    Posted at 06:44h, 21 November Reply

    I need my form DD 214. I was grafted in July 1961 and was honorable discharge in July 1963. My form DD 214 was misplaced.

    I would like to have a copy of my DD 214.

    Thank you very much.

    Wiliam James Johnson

    • Paula Tibbs
      Posted at 03:01h, 10 August Reply

      I served in the US Air Force1981 – 1992 under honorable conditions. I reelisted and was demoted to E3 effective date of 6/1998. I was released from service in March 2001 under a dishonorable discharge. I want to get a Military ID due to being 100 percent disabled vet what rank would be used for my ID? I’v tried to get my DD Form 214 for the honorable period I served and it is not available to me.

  • Thomas A. McQuiston
    Posted at 20:38h, 18 November Reply

    Could I get a copy of my military ID – I lost it years ago.
    How do I go about it? I In listed in 1972 US Army
    stationed at Schofield Hawaii

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