Discharge Upgrade- Civilian Attorney

Mr. Cassara served six years on active duty in the Army JAG Corps and 16 years in the Army JAG Corps reserves.  He served as a prosecutor, defense counsel and as appellate defense counsel.  For more than 30 years, Mr. Cassara has represented service members of all military branches in courts-martial, appeals of court-martial convictions, military discharge upgrades, administrative separations, security clearance matters, records correction, and all other areas of military law.  While my background is with the Army, I have appeared before the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Discharge Review Boards.  I am intimately familiar with all the service Discharge Review Boards, and the subtle differences from one branch to another.  While all Discharge Review Boards are governed by the United States Code, there are differences between how each branch operates their Boards.  I know those differences.  In addition, I have appeared before the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on military discharge upgrade matters.  In other words, I have represented former members of all services on discharge upgrades.

Why You Need a Civilian Military Attorney

When you were discharged, you may have been told your discharge would be “automatically upgraded” in six months. This is not true.  You may have been told “you can apply to have it upgraded.”  This is true, but without experienced counsel your odds of getting it upgraded are not good.  You need an attorney experienced in military discharge upgrades.  I have succeeded in getting numerous discharges upgraded over the years, and have appeared before all service discharge review boards.  See my Discharge Upgrades “Recent Accomplishments.”  I have taught discharge upgrades to both civilian and military lawyers, and am frequently called upon to present Continuing Legal Education courses on the subject of military discharge upgrades.  You can get free assistance from the VA or DAV in certain cases, but these are not lawyers, and frequently never speak to their client until the morning of the hearing.  It is truly a case of “you get what you pay for.”  I am frequently contacted by DAV reps from advice on handling a case.

What Civilian Attorney should you hire?

In my over 30 years of civilian military law practice, I have seen numerous former JAGs get off active duty, open a military law practice, and then close it.  I have seen numerous attorneys who practice criminal law in state courts representing former service members attempting to get their military discharge upgraded, and I have seen attorneys with almost no military law experience practice before the discharge review boards.   Do not make that mistake.  Military law is not like other areas of criminal law, and is a unique system unto itself.    You need an attorney with experience in military discharge upgrades.   I have the experience and will aggressively represent you.  You invested too much time and energy into your military career to trust your discharge upgrade to someone who does not have my experience.  Contrary to what you might have heard, you only get two shots at this.  You can do a “records review” and then you can appear in person before the Discharge Review Board. Frequently, I advise clients to skip the “Records Review.”  Unless you have hired an attorney with experience in military discharge upgrades, they will not know when and how to properly present your case.  I have appeared before Discharge Review Boards and met attorneys who had never done a military discharge review board, and have them ask me “how do these cases work.”  At that point, it is too late.  The case needs to be properly presented before the Board prior to the hearing.

One of the questions I am frequently asked is what factors one should consider in determining which attorney to hire.  My usual recommendation is you should consider the following:


How much of one’s practice is military law? In my case it is 100% of what I do.

Has the attorney represented service members of all branches?  I have.

How many discharge upgrades have you handled.  In my case, it is in the hundreds.

Is the attorney current on military law issues?  Military Law changes.  You need an attorney who keeps up on the latest developments.

Cost.  Yes, cost is one of the things you need to factor in.  My fees are competitive, because I limit my practice to military law.

Will the attorney I speak to actually handle my case?  In my case, the answer is yes.

Will the attorney who represents me be experienced in military law and discharge upgrades?  I am. 

But the most important thing is how responsive is the attorney to you, and how comfortable are you with that attorney.  If you can’t reach your attorney, or they don’t return your calls, that may be a sign that they have too many cases and can’t devote sufficient time to your case.

If you were discharged prior to your ETS or EAS date, and want to have your discharge upgraded, e-mail me for a free consultation.  Provide me with the following information:

-What service you were in.

-When you were discharged and what type of discharge you received.

-A brief summary of the circumstances leading to your discharge.

In addition to my military discharge upgrade practice, I am frequently asked to present Continuing Legal Education courses to active duty military and civilian lawyers in the area of military discharge upgrades.  I have traveled to DC, Fort Bragg, San Diego and other locations teaching military lawyers.  I taught military law at the University of Baltimore and University of South Carolina schools of law.  I am more experienced than any other lawyer you may contact.

While no one can guarantee you a particular result, one of the best indicators is past results.  Look at my recent accomplishments page for an indication of what I have done for others, and what I can do for you. 

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