Correction of military records: claims incident thereto
(1) The Secretary of a military department may correct any military record of the Secretary’s department when the Secretary considers it necessary to correct an error or remove an injustice. Except as provided in paragraph (2), such corrections shall be made by the Secretary acting through boards of civilians of the executive part of that military department. The Secretary of Homeland Security may in the same manner correct any military record of the Coast Guard.
(2) The Secretary concerned is not required to act through a board in the case of the correction of a military record announcing a decision that a person is not eligible to enlist (or reenlist) or is not accepted for enlistment (or reenlistment) or announcing the promotion and appointment of an enlisted member to an initial or higher grade or the decision not to promote an enlisted member to a higher grade. Such a correction may be made only if the correction is favorable to the person concerned.
(A) Corrections under this section shall be made under procedures established by the Secretary concerned. In the case of the Secretary of a military department, those procedures must be approved by the Secretary of Defense.
(B) If a board makes a preliminary determination that a claim under this section lacks sufficient information or documents to support the claim, the board shall notify the claimant, in writing, indicating the specific information or documents necessary to make the claim complete and reviewable by the board.
(C) If a claimant is unable to provide military personnel or medical records applicable to a claim under this section, the board shall make reasonable efforts to obtain the records. A claimant shall provide the board with documentary evidence of the efforts of the claimant to obtain such records. The board shall inform the claimant of the results of the board’s efforts, and shall provide the claimant copies of any records so obtained upon request of the claimant.
(D) Any request for reconsideration of a determination of a board under this section, no matter when filed, shall be reconsidered by a board under this section if supported by materials not previously presented to or considered by the board in making such determination.
(A) Subject to subparagraph (B), a correction under this section is final and conclusive on all officers of the United States except when procured by fraud.
(B) If a board established under this section does not grant a request for an upgrade to the characterization of a discharge or dismissal, that declination may be considered under section 1553a of this title.
(5) Each final decision of a board under this subsection shall be made available to the public in electronic form on a centralized Internet website. In any decision so made available to the public there shall be redacted all personally identifiable information.
(b) No correction may be made under subsection (a)(1) unless the claimant (or the claimant’s heir or legal representative) or the Secretary concerned files a request for the correction within three years after discovering the error or injustice. The Secretary concerned may file a request for correction of a military record only if the request is made on behalf of a group of members or former members of the armed forces who were similarly harmed by the same error or injustice. A board established under subsection (a)(1) may excuse a failure to file within three years after discovery if it finds it to be in the interest of justice.
(1) The Secretary concerned may pay, from applicable current appropriations, a claim for the loss of pay, allowances, compensation, emoluments, or other pecuniary benefits, or for the repayment of a fine or forfeiture, if, as a result of correcting a record under this section, the amount is found to be due the claimant on account of his or another’s service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, or Coast Guard, as the case may be, or on account of his or another’s service as a civilian employee.
If the claimant is dead, the money shall be paid, upon demand, to his legal representative. However, if no demand for payment is made by a legal representative, the money shall be paid—
(A) to the surviving spouse, heir, or beneficiaries, in the order prescribed by the law applicable to that kind of payment;
(B) if there is no such law covering order of payment, in the order set forth in section 2771 of this title; or
(C) as otherwise prescribed by the law applicable to that kind of payment.
(3) A claimant’s acceptance of a settlement under this section fully satisfies the claim concerned. This section does not authorize the payment of any claim compensated by private law before October 25, 1951.
(4) If the correction of military records under this section involves setting aside a conviction by court-martial, the payment of a claim under this subsection in connection with the correction of the records shall include interest at a rate to be determined by the Secretary concerned, unless the Secretary determines that the payment of interest is inappropriate under the circumstances. If the payment of the claim is to include interest, the interest shall be calculated on an annual basis, and compounded, using the amount of the lost pay, allowances, compensation, emoluments, or other pecuniary benefits involved, and the amount of any fine or forfeiture paid, beginning from the date of the conviction through the date on which the payment is made.
(d) Applicable current appropriations are available to continue the pay, allowances, compensation, emoluments, and other pecuniary benefits of any person who was paid under subsection (c), and who, because of the correction of his military record, is entitled to those benefits, but for not longer than one year after the date when his record is corrected under this section if he is not reenlisted in, or appointed or reappointed to, the grade to which those payments relate. Without regard to qualifications for reenlistment, or appointment or reappointment, the Secretary concerned may reenlist a person in, or appoint or reappoint him to, the grade to which payments under this section relate.
(e) No payment may be made under this section for a benefit to which the claimant might later become entitled under the laws and regulations administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
With respect to records of courts-martial and related administrative records pertaining to court-martial cases tried or reviewed under chapter 47 of this title (or under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (Public Law 506 of the 81st Congress)), action under subsection (a) may extend only to—
(1) correction of a record to reflect actions taken by reviewing authorities under chapter 47 of this title (or under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (Public Law 506 of the 81st Congress)); or
(2) action on the sentence of a court-martial for purposes of clemency.
(1) Any medical advisory opinion issued to a board established under subsection (a)(1) with respect to a member or former member of the armed forces who was diagnosed while serving in the armed forces as experiencing a mental health disorder shall include the opinion of a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist if the request for correction of records concerned relates to a mental health disorder.
(2) If a board established under subsection (a)(1) is reviewing a claim described in subsection (h), the board shall seek advice and counsel in the review from a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker with training on mental health issues associated with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury or other trauma as specified in the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association.
(3) If a board established under subsection (a)(1) is reviewing a claim in which sexual trauma, intimate partner violence, or spousal abuse is claimed, the board shall seek advice and counsel in the review from an expert in trauma specific to sexual assault, intimate partner violence, or spousal abuse, as applicable.
(1) This subsection applies to a former member of the armed forces whose claim under this section for review of a discharge or dismissal is based in whole or in part on matters relating to post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury as supporting rationale, or as justification for priority consideration, and whose post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury is related to combat or military sexual trauma, as determined by the Secretary concerned.
In the case of a claimant described in paragraph (1), a board established under subsection (a)(1) shall—
(A) review medical evidence of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs or a civilian health care provider that is presented by the claimant; and
(B) review the claim with liberal consideration to the claimant that post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury potentially contributed to the circumstances resulting in the discharge or dismissal or to the original characterization of the claimant’s discharge or dismissal.
Each board established under this section shall make available to the public each calendar quarter, on an Internet website of the military department concerned or the Department of Homeland Security, as applicable, that is available to the public the following:
(1) The number of claims considered by such board during the calendar quarter preceding the calendar quarter in which such information is made available, including cases in which a mental health condition of the former member, including post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury, is alleged to have contributed, whether in whole or part, to the original characterization of the discharge or release of the former member.
(2) The number of claims submitted during the calendar quarter preceding the calendar quarter in which such information is made available that relate to service by a former member during a war or contingency operation, catalogued by each war or contingency operation.
(3) The number of military records corrected pursuant to the consideration described in paragraph (1) to upgrade the characterization of discharge or release of former members.
(4) The number and disposition of claims decided during the calendar quarter preceding the calendar quarter in which such information is made available in which sexual assault is alleged to have contributed, whether in whole or in part, to the original characterization of the discharge or release of the former member.
(j) In this section, the term “military record” means a document or other record that pertains to (1) an individual member or former member of the armed forces, or (2) at the discretion of the Secretary of the military department concerned, any other military matter affecting a member or former member of the armed forces, an employee or former employee of that military department, or a dependent or current or former spouse of any such person. Such term does not include records pertaining to civilian employment matters (such as matters covered by title 5 and chapters 81, 83, 87, 108, 747, 855, 857, 871, and 947 of this title).
(Aug. 10, 1956, ch. 1041, 70A Stat. 116; Pub. L. 86–533, § 1(4), June 29, 1960, 74 Stat. 246; Pub. L. 96–513, title V, § 511(60), Dec. 12, 1980, 94 Stat. 2925; Pub. L. 98–209, § 11(a), Dec. 6, 1983, 97 Stat. 1407; Pub. L. 100–456, div. A, title XII, § 1233(a), Sept. 29, 1988, 102 Stat. 2057; Pub. L. 101–189, div. A, title V, § 514, title XVI, § 1621(a)(2), Nov. 29, 1989, 103 Stat. 1441, 1603; Pub. L. 102–484, div. A, title X, § 1052(19), Oct. 23, 1992, 106 Stat. 2500; Pub. L. 105–261, div. A, title V, § 545(a), (b), Oct. 17, 1998, 112 Stat. 2022; Pub. L. 107–296, title XVII, § 1704(b)(1), Nov. 25, 2002, 116 Stat. 2314; Pub. L. 110–417, [div. A], title V, § 592(a), (b), Oct. 14, 2008, 122 Stat. 4474, 4475; Pub. L. 113–291, div. A, title V, § 521(a), Dec. 19, 2014, 128 Stat. 3360; Pub. L. 114–92, div. A, title V, § 521, Nov. 25, 2015, 129 Stat. 811; Pub. L. 114–328, div. A, title V, §§ 533(a), 534(a), (b), Dec. 23, 2016, 130 Stat. 2121, 2122; Pub. L. 115–91, div. A, title V, §§ 520(a), 521(a), (c)(1), title X, § 1081(a)(27), Dec. 12, 2017, 131 Stat. 1379, 1380, 1595; Pub. L. 115–232, div. A, title VIII, § 809(a), Aug. 13, 2018, 132 Stat. 1840; Pub. L. 116–92, div. A, title V, §§ 521(a), 523(b)(2)(A), Dec. 20, 2019, 133 Stat. 1353, 1354; Pub. L. 116–283, div. A, title IX, § 924(b)(2)(A)(vi), Jan. 1, 2021, 134 Stat. 3821.)