PETITIONING TO THE BOARD OF CORRECTIONS (BCMR): TIPS FROM A BCMR ATTORNEY
Why Apply to the BCMR
There are a whole host of reasons which would warrant petitioning to a Board of Correction for any one of America's military Branches. While Discharge Review Boards (DRBs) can upgrade some discharges, the Boards of Correction for Military Records (BCMRs) have far more discretion and can make other types of corrections to your military records. BCMR's serve an equitable function and have the power to:
Review and change the decision of a DRB regarding a discharge;
Change discharges, including Bad Conduct Discharges or Dishonorable Discharges and/or Dismissals, resulting from General Courts-martial;
Change discharges to or from medical/disability retirement, which enables a VA pension;
Change re-enlistment (RE) codes;
Eliminate Disciplinary Actions (fines, reductions in rank, etc.);
Remove bad performance evaluations, counseling entries, etc.;
Re-instate a service member; and
Make other changes to personnel records.
In short, BCMRs have the ability to do anything to alter your records except overturn a general courts-martial conviction.
The Basics of Applying
All branches of the Military use the same basic form to apply. This form is called a DD Form 149. However, it's important to familiarize yourself which the different procedures each branch utilizes. Once you familiarize yourself with the procedures, you need to spend time gathering evidence to craft a comprehensive petition.
This evidence should include details of your military service and good military character. Moreover, include records of your VA medical care. If you do not have these records, provide as much detail as possible including dates, and the board will retrieve the records for you in your case.
What Do I Need to Establish to be Successful
The short answer is you need to demonstrate that there is an “error” or “injustice” in you military records in order to be granted relief. You can support this position by gathering statements from people who served with you. Evidence of good conduct since discharge is critical as well and can be powerful in front of the Board. When you submit your application, you can request a hearing, but personal hearings are rarely granted. In the even a hearing is ordered, it will take place in Washington, DC and you will be responsible for paying for your own travel expenses.
Do I need an Attorney
An experienced BCMR Attorney can be extremely helpful when applying to the Board. Success rates are inherently low when applying to a BCMR, but even lower if the application is done without an attorney. There is a lot on the line for members of the Military who seek the Board for correction. That is why it's incredibly important to have someone who knows the process well and can make powerful legal arguments on your behalf. The Pickett Law Group has experienced BCMR attorneys who have fought on the front lines of protecting America's service members in front of the Board. Contact us today for assistance. For more information, read our Step by Step Guide to Filing a Petition here.