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Upgrading Your Military Discharge

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In regard to testimony, for the purpose of this hearing you have the right to remain silent, give sworn testimony or give unsworn testimony. If you wish to remain silent you don’t have to say anything. If you choose to give sworn testimony you’ll take an oath and then each Board member will have the opportunity to ask you questions either about your testimony something in the record or essentially anything they feel might give a greater insight into your case. The Board believes that sworn testimony is important because in the absence of being able to ask questions, there is no way the Board members can establish your creditability as a witness, they don’t know whether to believe you or not.

The questioning process has a way of drawing out the truth. If you do decide to give sworn testimony and are asked a question you don't wish to answer, you don't have to answer it. The decision as to which form of testimony you give, if any, is entirely yours. The Board will concern itself with two basic issues in determining whether your discharge should be changed. The first issue is that of propriety. This means did the service follow its own rules and regulations in processing your discharge. If the Board feels there was an impropriety and that the impropriety was so gross that had it not occurred, the outcome would very likely have been different, it can use the issue of impropriety to upgrade your discharge. The second issue is that of equity. Given the same set of circumstances exactly as it was when you were discharged, apply it to today’s rules and regulations, would the outcome be the same. If the Board believes it would not then it can use the issue of equity to change your discharge.

The Board is limited to these two issues, propriety and equity as a basis for a change of discharge. They can not base a change on compassion or because you have changed for the better.

The hearing will be recorded on either a cassette tape or a CD. It provides a record of the proceedings but beyond that, it gives the board a chance to rehear your testimony after you have left the room and sometimes this can be very important. No one has access to the recording except you and the Board members. You can get a copy by simply asking for it; no one else can get a copy without your written permission.

When you go into the hearing room the board member designated as the recorder will start the recording device and the president of the Board will call the Board to order. The action officer will then read into the record that the board is meeting to consider your case, that you're are present and are or are not represented by counsel and will introduce exhibits into evidence, such as your application, your letter of notification of when to appear, orders that appoint the board, officers of the board, your records and the examiner’s brief and your issues. The reason is simply to provide a complete hearing record.

You’ll then be asked what form of testimony, if any, you wish to give. If you indicate sworn testimony you’ll be asked to stand, raise your right-hand and take an oath. All this takes about a minute and half and is essentially the only formal part of the hearing. From that point on you may sit down, try and relax and make yourself comfortable.

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