Upgrading that OTH discharge is free and easy with OutServe-SLDN

Jonathan Kaupanger
August 15, 2018 - 2:16 pm



An Honorable Discharge is the only type of military separation that doesn’t negatively impact your VA benefits.  Until recently, being LGTBQ while serving in the military could result in an Other Than Honorable Discharge and no VA benefits.  If this happened to you, OutServe-SLDN can help.

“What we’re really known for is legal work for veterans.  Most of that entails discharge upgrades and other records corrections,” says OutServe-SLDN’s Director of Education, Chapter & Veteran Services, Kai River Blevins.  “Essentially, we help veterans who were kicked out of the military for being gay or for being transgender.  We help them to amend their records so they’re not outed automatically when they have to produce their veteran records.  And also so they can access a lot of benefits that were often denied to them because they were kicked out.”

Normally, to receive services and benefits from VA you must have an Honorable Discharge.  Even a General Discharge reduces benefits. To receive benefits or services through the Montgomery or Post-9/11 GI Bills, you need an Honorable Discharge (HD).  

For the most part, service members discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell received an Honorable or General Under Honorable Conditions discharge based on their service records.  Service members discharged for homosexual acts involving aggravating factors could receive an Other Than Honorable (OTH) discharge.  Most of the actions on the aggravating factors list - acts involving minors, prostitutes or coercion - should be considered unacceptable behavior.  But there were two items on the list that did not constitute misconduct.  Acts committed openly in public view (such as holding hands at a restaurant) or acts committed on base or post (like a quick hug while being dropped off) should not be considered Other Than Honorable behavior.

A typical discharge upgrade through OutServe-SLDN takes between six and 18 months.  Most OutServe clients don’t have copies of their service records.  A fire at the National Personnel Records Center in 1973 destroyed about 18 million personnel records.  80 percent of the Army’s discharge records dated between 1912 and 1960 are gone; 75 percent of Air Force discharge records dated between 1947 and 1964 were destroyed as well. 

Once OutServe has your records, they figure out how they can help.  From there your information is forwarded to one of their pro bono legal partners.  “None of this costs anything.  All of our work is pro bono for legal services.  It can be any type of legal issue, it’s not just records corrections, and we also represent claims in court,” says Blevins.

“Just talk to us,” says Blevins.  “People come in and want to get their discharge paperwork upgraded.  We know the process, they don’t have to worry about anything.”


            Contact us about this article or share your story at gethelp@connectingvets.com