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How to Apply for a Discharge Upgrade


This page explains a new opportunity for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who are interested in applying for a discharge upgrade.

  1. Did you ever serve in the U.S. military?
  2. Did you receive a less-than-honorable discharge?
  3. Have you been diagnosed with PTSD, or do you experience any of the following symptoms?
  • trouble sleeping;
  • feeling keyed up, irritable, anxious, or numb;
  • flashbacks; or
  • avoiding reminders of a traumatic experience.

If you answered “yes” to all three questions, you could benefit from a recent Department of Defense directive that makes it easier for veterans with PTSD to upgrade their discharge status.

Since 2014, the Secretary of Defense has required the Boards that review discharge upgrade applications to pay special attention to applications from veterans who seek an upgrade based on service-related PTSD. Under the directive, the Boards are granting an increasing number of discharge upgrades to veterans with PTSD, including veterans were denied upgrades in the past.

Before this recent guidance, the Boards usually did not consider PTSD when reviewing a veteran’s discharge status, even though many veterans have received less-than-honorable discharges because of conduct related to their PTSD. The Defense Secretary’s 2014 directive is meant to fix a process that has overlooked the harmful effects of PTSD for hundreds of thousands of veterans.

A discharge upgrade can increase your opportunity to receive important benefits, including eligibility for VA health care, disability compensation, insurance, burial benefits, access to G.I. Bill benefits, and greater employment opportunities.

If you believe that PTSD may have contributed to your less-than-honorable discharge, we encourage you to submit a discharge upgrade application.

Because a PTSD diagnosis greatly increases the odds that you will receive an upgrade, we also encourage you to contact your local Vet Center for a PTSD evaluation or discuss the process with your doctor. Please click on the steps to the left to learn how to prepare your discharge upgrade application.

Thank you for your service.


Step 5: Submit your application.

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