What should I expect at a Discharge Review Board personal appearance hearing?
There are Discharge Review Boards (DRBs) for each of the services. These boards exist specifically to review requests from former servicemembers to upgrade their discharge characterizations and/or change the narrative reason for their discharge. Upon request, the DRBs may grant a former servicemember a personal appearance hearing. The personal appearance hearing is not like a court-martial. The hearing is an administrative hearing, so there are no rules of evidence and there is no panel or military judge. Instead, at a personal appearance hearing you will face five members. At the Army Board, the members are appointed officers ranking O5 to O6. At the Navy Board, the members are appointed officers ranking O4 and above. At the Air Force Board, the members are appointed active duty officers or senior enlisted personnel. At the Coast Guard Board, the members are those appointed by the Commandant of the Coast Guard. Depending on the amount of evidence you have to present at the hearing, the hearing could last anywhere between a half hour to a few hours. You can present documentary evidence at the hearing or witnesses. You can also make your own statement to the board after you are sworn in. If you have an attorney representing you there, that advocate can present your case for you and you may still provide your own statement if you want. Having an experienced attorney as your advocate at these boards is extremely helpful. I have appeared in front of these Boards at personal appearance hearings many times. I know what to expect at the hearings and I get great results for my clients. Let me help you if you are still within 15 years of your discharge and would like to attempt to get an upgrade. To speak to an experienced court-martial and military defense attorney, call Bill Cassara at 706-860-5769 for a free consultation.