Veterans Affairs

Helping Veterans upgrade their Discharge Status

By the Numbers


Veterans used the tool within the first eight months of launch

The Challenge

An estimated 75,000 of our nation’s Veterans were less than honorably discharged as a result of issues including their sexual orientation, undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), or being victims of sexual assault. A less than honorable discharge not only keeps a Veteran from receiving care and benefits, but for many it also prevents reenlistment, eligibility for a competitive job, or reintegration to civilian life. Often, it also means that society doesn’t recognize them as a Veteran. The military indicated that Veterans discharged under these circumstances were likely to receive an upgraded status if they submitted a strong application, but the application process was complex. It was difficult for users to know which form to submit, what evidence to provide, and what military board to submit to.

The Solution

Digital Service at Veterans Affairs led a coalition of concerned employees across Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense to build a tool that guides users through 9 questions and provides individualized results based on their responses. The customized plain language offers clear, step-by-step guidance on how a Veteran could present a strong application to upgrade their discharge status.

Nothing would make me prouder than getting my other than honorable discharge changed…I simply want the ability of saying, yes, I served proudly, and being able to state in an application that I served.

– a Veteran in response to an American Legion story introducing the new tool

Former Airman 2nd Class Helen James, a radio operator, was dishonorably discharged of the Air Force in 1955 because she was a lesbian. She recently received on upgraded honorable discharge (Image courtesy of Legal Aid at Work).


More projects

We need you.

Let’s help millions of people together.

Apply now