Ask a Military Lawyer: Can You Reenlist After an Administrative Discharge?

Some people serve in the military for a career, while others may serve for only one tour of duty.  When enlisting in the military, the amount of time an individual serves is determined by their enlistment contract in most cases. However, some do not serve their entire enlistment contract. Time in the military can prematurely come to an end due to disciplinary or other issues.

Military service can end prematurely in two ways:  through an administrative separation or punitive discharges. We’ll look at each of these a bit further, as well as what your next options are after you receive one.

Table of Contents

  • What is an Administrative Discharge?
  • Punitive Discharge
  • Can You Reenlist After an Administrative Discharge?
  • Retain the Services of an Administrative Separation Attorney

What is an Administrative Discharge?

An administrative separation is when your command seeks to involuntarily separate you through the administrative (non-judicial) process, through what is known as the notification procedure or board procedure. This is similar to being fired from a job for civilians. Administrative separation can occur for any number of reasons, including:

  • A pattern of misconduct
  • Drug abuse
  • Insubordination
  • Weight control issues
  • Nonperformance of duties
  • Personality disorders
  • Medical limitations
  • Mental health issues
  • Poor duty performance

Punitive Discharge

Punitive discharges and administrative separations are not the same. While both may end your military service, they differ in important ways. A punitive discharge, resulting from a criminal conviction at a court-martial for violations of Articles 77 through 134 of the Uniform Military Code of Justice (UCMJ), known as the “punitive articles,” is more serious than an administrative discharge. There are two types of punitive discharge:  a bad conduct discharge and a dishonorable discharge. You cannot receive a bad conduct discharge or dishonorable discharge through an administrative separation.

Can You Reenlist After an Administrative Discharge?

An administrative separation may mean that you’ll be facing the end of your military career before your contract officially expires. If a servicemember is administratively separated, the resulting discharge will be characterized in one of three ways:

  • Honorable
  • General (Under Honorable Conditions)
  • Under Other than Honorable Conditions

You are normally only eligible for reenlistment if you have an honorable discharge. All other administrative discharges, both “general” and “under other than honorable conditions,” which could be the result of court martial offenses even if there is no court-martial conviction, may prohibit reenlistment. The discharge paperwork will contain a Separation Code, which tells military recruiters the reason for discharge. Let an experienced administrative separation attorney take a look at this in order to advise you as to your possible next steps.

Can you reenlist? What are your best options now? Do you retain your benefits? An administrative separation attorney has the answers you’re looking for.

Retain the Services of an Administrative Separation Attorney

Many servicemembers do not consider the long-term effects of an administrative separation on their future. An administrative separation is not a simple situation and it can impact not only your ability to reenlist, but also the benefits you may be entitled to receive. An administrative separation can also prevent employment in the civilian sector.

If you’re facing an administrative separation, you should contact a specialized military defense attorney. Mark A. Bridges will explain more about your rights and the process. We want you to know that you have the right to challenge a particular character of service, as well as the entire administrative separation altogether.

Contact our law office to book a time to speak to an administrative separation attorney. We will look into your case and let you know whether or not you can reenlist or have a case to fight against the administrative discharge completely.

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