View all text of Chapter 79 [§ 1551 - § 1559]

§ 1553.
Review of discharge or dismissal
(a) The Secretary concerned shall, after consulting the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, establish a board of review, consisting of not fewer than three members, to review the discharge or dismissal (other than a discharge or dismissal by sentence of a general court-martial) of any former member of an armed force under the jurisdiction of his department upon its own motion or upon the request of the former member or, if he is dead, his surviving spouse, next of kin, or legal representative. A motion or request for review must be made within 15 years after the date of the discharge or dismissal. With respect to a discharge or dismissal adjudged by a court-martial case 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 this subsection may extend only to a change in the discharge or dismissal or issuance of a new discharge for purposes of clemency.
(b)
(1) A board established under this section may, subject to review by the Secretary concerned, change a discharge or dismissal, or issue a new discharge, to reflect its findings.
(2) 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 1552 or section 1553a of this title, as applicable.
(c) A review by a board established under this section shall be based on the records of the armed forces concerned and such other evidence as may be presented to the board. A witness may present evidence to the board in person or by affidavit. A person who requests a review under this section may appear before the board in person or by counsel or an accredited representative of an organization recognized by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs under chapter 59 of title 38.
(d)
(1)
(A) In the case of a former member of the armed forces who, while serving on active duty as a member of the armed forces, was deployed in support of a contingency operation and who, at any time after such deployment, was diagnosed by a physician, clinical psychologist, or psychiatrist as experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury as a consequence of that deployment, a board established under this section to review the former member’s discharge or dismissal shall include a member who is a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist, or a physician with training on mental health issues connected with post traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury (as applicable).
(B) In the case of a former member described in paragraph (3)(B) who claims that the former member’s post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury as described in that paragraph is based in whole or in part on sexual trauma, intimate partner violence, or spousal abuse, a board established under this section to review the former member’s discharge or dismissal 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.
(2) In the case of a former member described in paragraph (1) or a former member whose application for relief 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, the Secretary concerned shall expedite a final decision and shall accord such cases sufficient priority to achieve an expedited resolution. In determining the priority of cases, the Secretary concerned shall weigh the medical and humanitarian circumstances of all cases and accord higher priority to cases not involving post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury only when the individual cases are considered more compelling.
(3)
(A)
In addition to the requirements of paragraphs (1) and (2), in the case of a former member described in subparagraph (B), the Board shall—
(i) review medical evidence of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs or a civilian health care provider that is presented by the former member; and
(ii) review the case with liberal consideration to the former member 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 member’s discharge or dismissal.
(B) A former member described in this subparagraph is a former member described in paragraph (1) or a former member whose application for relief 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, whose post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury is related to combat or military sexual trauma, as determined by the Secretary concerned.
(e) In the case of a former member of the armed forces (other than a former member covered by subsection (d)) who was diagnosed while serving in the armed forces as experiencing a mental health disorder, a board established under this section to review the former member’s discharge or dismissal shall include a member who is a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist, or a physician with special training on mental health disorders.
(f)
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)
(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 discharges or dismissals corrected pursuant to the consideration described in paragraph (1) to upgrade the characterization of discharge or dismissal 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.
(Added Pub. L. 85–857, § 13(v)(2), Sept. 2, 1958, 72 Stat. 1266; amended Pub. L. 87–651, title I, § 110(a), Sept. 7, 1962, 76 Stat. 509; Pub. L. 98–209, § 11(b), Dec. 6, 1983, 97 Stat. 1407; Pub. L. 101–189, div. A, title XVI, § 1621(a)(2), Nov. 29, 1989, 103 Stat. 1603; Pub. L. 111–84, div. A, title V, § 512(b), Oct. 28, 2009, 123 Stat. 2281; Pub. L. 113–291, div. A, title V, § 521(b), Dec. 19, 2014, 128 Stat. 3360; Pub. L. 114–328, div. A, title V, §§ 533(b), 535, Dec. 23, 2016, 130 Stat. 2121, 2123; Pub. L. 115–91, div. A, title V, §§ 520(b), 521(b), (c)(2), title X, § 1081(a)(28), Dec. 12, 2017, 131 Stat. 1379, 1380, 1595; Pub. L. 116–92, div. A, title V, §§ 521(b), 522, 523(b)(2)(B), Dec. 20, 2019, 133 Stat. 1353, 1354; Pub. L. 116–283, div. A, title X, § 1081(a)(28), Jan. 1, 2021, 134 Stat. 3872.)