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[Excerpt] This report discusses the discharge or separation requirement for veteran status or, more specifically, how the VA assesses character of service to determine whether a former service member’s separation from the military can be considered other than dishonorable. In some instances, the military characterization of discharge is relatively uncomplicated, creating a binding entitlement to VA benefits (i.e., an honorable or general discharge [under honorable conditions]), assuming the individual meets other eligibility requirements for veteran status. However, if the characterization of discharge may preclude access to veteran’s benefits, the VA must develop the case, through an assessment of service records and other evidence related to a claimant’s time in the military. This report includes a hypothetical example (in Appendix C) illustrating the complexities associated with making character of service determinations by the VA.


Suggested Citation
Moulta-Ali, U., & Panangala, S. V. (2015). Veterans’ benefits: The impact of military discharges on basic eligibility. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.