Can a Court Martial Disqualify Me from Receiving VA Benefits?
There can be many short-term consequences of a court martial conviction including jail time, fines and discharge. In the longer term, your ability to receive Veterans Administration (VA) benefits may be restricted as the result of this type of matter. This is because to get VA benefits you need to prove your service eligibility and the type of discharge you received. If you were discharged in a certain way, you may become ineligible.
Special and general courts martial can result in a punitive discharge. Summary courts martial cannot, but if you are convicted of an offense by a court martial, and the court does not impose a punitive discharge, your commanding officer can start administrative discharge proceedings as a separate matter.
There are three kinds of punitive discharges:
• Bad Conduct Discharge: A bad conduct discharge, or BCD, can be imposed by both special and general courts martial. However, it can only be given, as part of the court punishment, to enlisted members.
• Dismissal: Dismissal from service can be imposed only on officers and is similar to a BCD. Special and general courts martial may impose this on officers when the maximum punishment listed in the Manual for Courts-Martial (MCM) includes a BCD.
• Dishonorable Discharge (DD): This is the worst type of military discharge. It can be imposed only by a general court martial only if the MCM authorizes a DD for the offense you have been convicted of. In most cases, a DD is coupled with a sentence to military prison.
With an honorable or general discharge, you are eligible for most VA benefits, if you meet the other qualifications. An honorable discharge is needed for a few benefits, such as GI Bill education benefits. A DD, a BCD or a dismissal from a general court martial will disqualify you for VA benefits.
Receiving an other than honorable administrative discharge may or may not make you ineligible for benefits. In these cases the VA will decide whether your service was “other than honorable” based on a number of factors.
A strong and effective defense is needed in every court martial, because many things are at stake, including long term VA benefits. The court martial defense attorneys at Elkus, Sisson & Rosenstein are available to those living in the Denver and Colorado Springs areas. They can be reached at (303)567-7981. Call for a free consultation today.