Administrative Separation Basics

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There are a number of ways in which a service member’s military career can come to end. One such method is administrative separation. Sometimes confused with a punitive discharge, which typically occurs following a judicial conviction at a court-martial, an administrative separation is a process by which a soldier’s command seeks to involuntarily separate him or her through the administrative process. Administration separation can occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • Substance abuse;
  • Misconduct;
  • Insubordination;
  • Weight problems;
  • Nonperformance of duties; and
  • Poor performance of duties.

Below is an overview of how the administration separation process works.

The Process

An administrative separation begins with notification in writing of:

  1. The basis for the separation – The basis for the separation is the stated reason for the administrative separation.
  2. The recommended characterization of service – The recommended characterization of service refers to the quality of an individual’s military service. The quality of one’s military service is an important determination that can affect a service member’s ability to obtain veterans’ benefits. The military makes this determination in accordance with the standards of personal conduct in the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Administrative separations are divided into the following three categories:

  1. Honorable;
  2. General (under honorable conditions); or
  3. Other than honorable.


A separation is characterized as honorable when a service member has met the military standards of acceptable conduct and performance.

General (Under Honorable Conditions)

A separation is characterized as general (under honorable conditions) when the negative aspects of a service member’s conduct or performance outweigh the positive aspects of the same. This type of separation can jeopardize a service member’s post-service benefits, and he or she is typically barred from reenlisting or entering a different branch of military service.

Other than Honorable

A separation is characterized as other than honorable when a service member has demonstrated a pattern of behavior that is considered to be a significant departure from conduct expected of service members.

Denver Administrative Separation Attorneys

If you have received notice that you are being discharged, and you disagree with the characterization of your discharge or the reasons cited for the characterization, then you may be entitled to a hearing. And if you have already been discharged, you can often still appeal the characterization of your discharge, the reason for the discharge, and your reenlistment eligibility – sometimes even years after the fact. In addition, if you are facing involuntary administrative separation or are appealing a past discharge action, then you are permitted to seek assistance from an attorney. Therefore, if you are currently facing any of the above actions, it’s important to seek experienced legal counsel as soon as possible. Whether you are stationed in the United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Germany, Italy, Korea, Japan, or elsewhere, our experienced Denver attorneys are ready and willing to right for your rights regardless of your location. Please contact us for a free consultation as soon as possible.

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