What the Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Means for Veterans Interested in Discharge Upgrades

On September 20th, 2011, the law known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) was repealed. The result was that lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members are now able to serve openly without fear of discharge. However, the repeal of DADT will not automatically reinstate the estimated 14,500 service members who were discharged under DADT, nor award discharge upgrades to the many thousands more who were discharged for reason related to their orientation.

While the majority of those discharged under DADT did receive honorable discharges, many did not. Discharges characterized as being less-than-honorable can have lasting impact, such as restricting access to GI Bill benefits, the VA home loan program, and/or VA healthcare. On top of this, in some cases veterans must disclose the character of their discharge when applying for jobs outside the military and a less-than-honorable discharge can harm employment prospects. This all makes the prospect of a discharge upgrade especially attractive.

Discharge documents like a DD-214 can “out” those discharged under DADT to potential employers, and if the paperwork shows a less-than-honorable discharge, employers may conclude the person had engaged in misconduct. It is important to note that while DADT has been repealed this does not mean that all of those discharged for homosexuality will have their discharges upgraded.  Every case is unique and the decision of whether to upgrade your discharge will be made by the services on a case by case basis.  If you were affected by DADT and did not receive an honorable discharge, but believe that you should have, please call me at (888) 288-3347 to discuss a potential discharge upgrade.