In the United States military, personnel can be discharged from service in a variety of ways. The type of discharge that is received will be placed on their DD-214. The best option is the Honorable Discharge, while the worst option is a Dishonorable Discharge. Several options, including the General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions, are between these two extremes.
With a General Discharge, an individual will have received some form of non-judicial punishment during their time of service as a disciplinary action. This indicates that there was a failure to meet a military standard. The reason for the discharge is given in writing and an acknowledgement is required to acknowledge an understanding of this reason.
The benefit of a General Discharge is that it is still provided under an honorable condition. This condition can be used as a job reference in the future. Personnel who receive this discharge status are usually eligible to receive veteran’s benefits because the service provided is typically considered to be satisfactory.
The disadvantage of a General Discharge is that there are specific benefits which no longer become accessible. GI Bill education benefits, for example, are reserved for military members who received an honorable discharge. Any benefit tied to that specific discharge type will not be received.
Here are some of the other General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions pros and cons to consider when separating from the U.S. military.
List of the Pros of a General Discharge
1. There is a possibility that it can be upgraded.
For some individuals who receive a General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions, they may be eligible to apply for a higher discharge rating in the future. The upgrade process isn’t automatic. Individuals must use DD Form 293, which is an application to have a discharge or dismissal from the armed forces reviewed. The form must be submitted within 15 years of discharge. Otherwise, a change to personal military records must be requested.
2. It meets eligibility standards.
Personnel who receive a General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions are listed as being a qualified veteran. Certain benefits are determined by whether individuals served during a time of war or a time of peace. Some designations are reserved for combat-duty personnel, but because this is one of the two honorable discharge types, unless specifically stated otherwise, benefit eligibility is not restricted.
3. It allows for a veteran’s hiring preference.
When applying for a Federal civil service job with a General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions, a qualified individual with a passing score can receive a hiring preference. The application is a points-based system, so individuals with this discharge type who qualify can have up to 10 points added to their scores. Certain ranks may be excluded, so always check the final hiring requirements before completing the application.
4. It provides all rights.
Individuals who receive a punitive discharge from the U.S. military may not be allowed all their personal rights when they enter civilian life. If an individual receives a Dishonorable Discharge, for example, then they are not allowed to own a firearm. Individuals who receive a Bad Conduct Discharge or a Dishonorable Discharge will also forfeit their military and veteran’s benefits. With a General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions, these rights remain intact.
5. It won’t impact future job opportunities in most circumstances.
It is true that a future employer is going to prefer an individual with an Honorable Discharge over an individual with a General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions. Though they will not usually request the discharge type unless required to do so, many employers look at the honorable conditions more than the conduct that triggered a reduced discharge type. For those who have a General Discharge, it is important to be prepared to provide a thorough explanation as to the circumstances which occurred.
6. The criteria for this discharge are clear.
Individuals who are concerned about what discharge type they will receive have access to specific definitions in the service manual about what to expect. For the U.S. Marines, the average pros and cons needed to receive an honorable notation upon discharge is 3.0 to 4.0. The definition of reliability for a Marne is to do the right thing in the absence of supervision. By referring to these information resources, it becomes possible to look at current ratings to determine the probability of a status.
7. It can be appealed.
When a General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions is expected or an individual has been notified that this will be their discharge type, there is an appeal process that can be followed. Individuals are permitted to have legal representation review their discharge documentation and follow up on any questionable documentation that they may feel is preventing them from receiving a full Honorable Discharge.
8. There are usually chances to change this status before it happens.
Individuals who may receive a General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions often know about the conditions which are triggering this type before it happens. This is especially true for those who are struggling to meet certain physical requirements. Physical management practices and recommendations may be offered, including counseling, dietary and nutrition advice, medical advice, and even specialized fitness programming. A General Discharge is usually the last resort, when all other avenues have been exhausted and nothing else seems to be working.
9. It can be posthumously changed.
Spouses and families benefit from the discharge type an individual receives as well. That applies even after the individual passes away after their service. It is possible for families to access the DD214 form so they can see the specific discharge type that was awarded. They can then fill out the paperwork for the review to have the status possibly changed.
List of the Cons of a General Discharge
1. It prevents future service.
Individuals who receive a General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions are not allowed to re-enlist once the dismissal has been completed. The discharge type prevents individuals from entering a different service of the armed forces as well. Receiving this discharge virtually guarantees life as a civilian from the moment is has been completed.
2. It is often viewed as a dishonorable discharge.
People who are not aware of the various discharge types often view any discharge type that is not an Honorable Discharge as a Dishonorable Discharge. Because the latter type is reserved for severe violations of military code, including criminal conduct such as domestic violence or sexual assault, receiving a General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions can make people think you’re a “bad person.” It is a misconception, but for many people, their perception becomes reality.
3. Minor issues can create this discharge type.
Something minor can be enough to trigger a General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions instead of an Honorable Discharge. A Chapter 13 for failing to attend a specific responsibility, being overweight, or being under-strength are three common reasons for this administrative discharge to be used. The conditions are still viewed as being honorable, but the discharge type is reflective of evidence that one could not fulfill their complete obligation to the military.
4. It can be used for pre-existing conditions.
The General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions is assigned when there are infractions that do not warrant a judicial consequence. It can also be assigned when there is a medical reason for a discharge. This may be due to an injury that is suffered in the line of duty or even for a pre-existing condition that the individual did not know existed until their time in the military. In this instance, the discharge type may be upgradable in as little as 180 days, but there is no guarantee that the review will do so.
5. Certain discharges can still qualify for all benefits.
Depending upon the discharge circumstances, a minority of individuals with a General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions may still qualify for all benefits. This usually applies to a discharge that was implemented because of a mental health concern, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. There is no guarantee, however, that this will happen.
6. Some individuals receive insurance denials.
When applying for insurance through a military-associated provider, or for other needed services, individuals with this discharge type may sometimes experience denials. Many providers who work with military members will only approve the applications of those who have received an Honorable Discharge.
Receiving a General Discharge, Under Honorable Conditions may not be the ideal discharge scenario, but for many individuals, the results are far from disastrous. Most will qualify for a majority of their earned benefits. Most will be able to find meaningful employment in the private sector. Some may still be able to work in the civil service industry. By evaluating these pros and cons before discharge, however, it may be possible to identify areas of concern so that this type can be avoided.