For the first time in 30 years, a new comprehensive guide has been published for advocates representing veterans with less-than-honorable or otherwise stigmatizing discharges.
The Military Discharge Upgrade Legal Practice Manual provides a comprehensive guide to representing veterans with less-than-honorable or otherwise stigmatizing discharges before military review boards. It serves as a desktop reference for anyone interested in advocating for veterans, restoring honor to those who have served, and opening doors to life-altering support.
Drawn from the expertise of practitioners in the field, the Manual contains guidance and practical tips for the successful representation of veterans in this complex and growing area of advocacy. Among the topics covered are:
- Identifying procedural errors in the military discharge process;
- Finding inequities and injustices in the discharge;
- Compiling and developing evidence;
- Crafting arguments to support the relief sought;
- Presenting a compelling narrative to the tribunal;
- Framing and preserving legal issues for review to an appellate court;
- Pursuing remedies through the Department of Veterans Affairs Character of Discharge Determination process.
The Manual covers fact investigation, legal research, and case strategy in advocating for veterans in discharge upgrade petitions to military review boards. Every stage of representation receives detailed attention, from initial client intake to administrative proceedings to federal court review. This complete desktop reference fills a major gap in the field and provides attorneys with the help they may need to aid former service members who have been denied the title of “veteran” and excluded from veterans’ benefits due to unjust or erroneous discharges from military service.
The Manual is also designed to equip and inspire more attorneys to commit to pro bono work on behalf of veterans facing these unfair discharges, which disproportionately affect veterans who experienced trauma (such as combat trauma and military sexual trauma), mental health conditions or medical conditions (such as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury), or discrimination (such as discrimination based on race, sex, and LGBTQ+ status). Development of the Manual was made possible through a grant from the Bob Woodruff Foundation. The manual is available for purchase from the American Bar Association.