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Army Discharge Review Board


Each service has an almost identical board but this article’s focus is the Army.

What is the ADRB:

The Army Discharge Review Board (ADRB) reviews discharges of former Soldiers. The purpose of the review is to determine if the discharge was granted in a proper manner, according to regulatory procedures in effect at the time, and that the army applied the rules and regulations equally in the same sets of circumstances. The board is made up of five senior active duty officers who review the specifics of the case, and decisions are made by a majority vote (3 or more).

In order to receive a discharge upgrade, the applicant must prove that there is an error, injustice, or inequity in his or her discharge.

The ADRB is not authorized to revoke a discharge, to reinstate a person who was separated from the Army, or to recall a person to active duty. Bad conduct discharges given as a result of a special court martial may be upgraded only on the basis of clemency.

How to apply:

To file for a hearing, former military members of the Regular Army, the US Army Reserve, and the Army National Guard should submit a DD Form 293 (Application for the Review of Discharge from the Armed Forces of the United States) to the ADRB. Applicants can request an Army Discharge Review Board records review hearing (where the applicant submits documentary evidence to the board) or a personal appearance hearing (in which the applicant appears before the board to make a statement and provide testimony) or by both types of hearings. Typically, applicants first request a records review hearing, and then follow with a personal appearance hearing if their upgrade request is denied. The application for a hearing is available on the Army Review Board Agency website (see link below) and can be submitted online or by mail.

To strengthen the application, the veteran should provide copies of all relevant military records in your possession, especially a separation packet, evidence that supports the request, and any communication he/she had with other agencies regarding your issue.

Many applicants choose to be represented by a lawyer, who can provide counseling and help the veteran in assembling the application. A lawyer is not required, but the applicant may receive representation by an experienced advocate of his/her choice. There are many free advocacy groups that are very experienced in preparing you for your hearing. Some include the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, the Order of Purple Heart, and your local county Veteran Service Officer. Many applicants take advantage of free representation at personal appearance hearings and hire a paid attorney to provide council in submitting the application. This allows the applicant to minimize costs while providing the best representation possible. However, these organizations require advanced notice to prepare for hearings, so they should be contacted as early in the process as possible to make arrangements.

The DD 293 may also be submitted by the surviving spouse, next of kin, or legal representative if the former member is deceased or incompetent. However, the application must include supporting documentation, such as a certified copy of a marriage license, death certificate, or power of attorney, as appropriate.

How it works:

The board considers applications on a records review basis or through personal appearance boards in Arlington, Virginia or through quarterly travel board personal appearances at select locations in the Continental United States.

The ADRB conducts reviews in one of three ways at the applicant’s request:

(1) The Board evaluates the case in a records review based on the documentation in the military record and with additional evidence provided by the applicant.

(2) The applicant’s counsel appears before the Board on behalf of the applicant.

(3) The applicant appears in person, with or without Counsel, before the Board providing information that further supports the applicant’s contention.

A typical personal appearance hearing will be preceded by several formalities, including a briefing to tell the applicant what to expect. Then, the applicant will be sworn in and will receive the opportunity to make an opening statement or, if represented by an attorney, for counsel to present the case. The applicant will then be questioned by the board, with each member asking questions to clarify or determine facts and circumstances that were not fully explained beforehand.

The ADRB cannot review discharges from by a General Court Martial or discharges from over 15 years ago. If punitively discharged by a General Court Martial or it is more than 15 years since the applicant’s date of discharge, these issues must be addressed by submitting a DD Form 149 (Application for Correction of Military Records Under the Provisions of Title 10, U.S. Code, Section 1552) to the Army Board for Correction of Military Records (ABCMR).

For more information, visit arba.army.pentagon.mil

Information taken from:

“Army Discharge Review Board.” The United States Army | Army Review Boards Agency, US Army, arba.army.pentagon.mil/adrb-overview.html.

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