What is Documentation
Whether you are facing administrative action or criminal charges, all types of military personnel sanctions are subject to due process requirements. This means that the case against you and your defense depends heavily on accurate documentation of your actions. As the accused, you have the right to refute any information that is submitted against you.
However, that right is frequently waived, often because service members don’t realize what their rights really are, or they have a mistaken idea of when and how to make their case. It’s crucial to make sure that the records represent your side of the story – and that means getting control of it from the get-go.
A Discharge Impacts Your Post-Military Life.
If an administrative or criminal case against you moves to the point of discharge, it can cause lifelong problems even after your military career is long over. In the case of administrative discharge, your service may be characterized in one of three ways – honorable, under honorable conditions, or other than honorable conditions. A criminal proceeding can result in a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge.
Anything other than an honorable discharge can reflect unfavorably on you. It may hurt your reputation in post-military life and cause problems for your future employment prospects, whether in San Diego or beyond. Additionally, it can threaten your benefits, such as those provided by the Department of Veteran Affairs and Department of Defense.
The Importance of Accurate Records
In either an administrative or criminal proceeding, the burden of proof lies with your accusers. Specifically, they need to prove that your conduct or performance was inadequate in some way and that you were made aware of the problematic conduct or performance. In some cases, they also need to prove that you were given the opportunity to correct the problem before the adverse action was taken.
Your service records help show whether or not this took place. Documentation may include, for example, unfavorable Fitness Reports or Performance Evaluations as proof of unsatisfactory behavior or performance. They should also include evidence that you were informed of the problem and provided counseling. If they are wrong, you are even more likely to have your administrative proceeding not end in your favor.
Many people are not aware that there is a process for correcting your records. The Board of Correction of Naval Records (BCNR) and the Board of Correction Military Records (BCMR) maintain military records. If there are errors, you must first learn how to recognize them and know how to correct them.
In the case of administrative action, the documentation in your records could support a discharge that is either honorable, general under honorable conditions, or a discharge under other than honorable conditions. If you face administrative action, you must ensure your documentation is correct.
Adverse Administrative Actions Impact Your Career.
When a service member takes their defense upon themselves, they will often submit rebuttals to adverse documentation that worsen their situation rather than improving it. Their words may be colored by anger, frustration, anxiety, and the overall pressures of administrative or criminal proceedings.
Clarity, good timing, and a thorough knowledge of military law and regulations are imperative to making a defense case as clear and convincing as possible. This makes good legal counsel vital. As a veteran and longtime defender of service members, Stephen Brodsky is exceptionally well-equipped to defend the military men and women of San Antonio against unfair charges, ensuring they receive the treatment that due process demands.