Denver, CO Martial Law Blog

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Military Sexual Trauma Victim Wins Upgraded Discharge

Q: Can an “other than honorable” discharge ever be upgraded?

Being charged with desertion or AWOL (absent without leave) is very serious in the military.

Because the punishments can vary greatly, it's important to hire a skilled civilian military defense attorney to defend you. Not only can such charges end your military career and cause you to be discharged under an “other than honorable” designation, but it may impact your civilian life thereafter. One young Navy sailor whose repeated AWOL incidents led to an “other than honorable” discharge decades ago learned that the hard way.

Just seventeen years old when he arrived on his first Navy ship, the young sailor promptly encountered a terrifying new reality. He was targeted by a gang of six other sailors who began "raping, beating and sodomizing him repeatedly". Reporting the incidents to superiors allegedly did nothing and the attacks continued.

Desperate, he reportedly went AWOL five times – – each time to be collected and returned to the gang, where he was molested again, according to the former sailor. To escape, he agreed to a "less than honorable discharge". He was still 17 at the time of discharge.

The experience affected his post-military life--especially the "other than honorable" discharge which impacted his ability to find work and to access healthcare and other military benefits. He says he was angry, had a difficult marriage that failed, had a hard time finding work, was often drunk, and attempted suicide.

He has spent nearly three decades trying to change his status to an honorable discharge. It began by winning back his VA rights and obtaining a "100% service connected disability for post-traumatic stress disorder."

On his unprecedented fourth appeal to the Board of Correction for Naval Records, and after a lifetime of telling his story, advocating for other survivors of military sexual trauma, and testifying before Congress himself – – his appeal was recently granted and he was given an upgraded to honorable discharge. In fact, he was even offered an opportunity to re-enlist, but reportedly declined. While his tireless efforts are admirable, he may have prevailed earlier with the assistance of a skilled civilian military attorney on his side.

If you have been charged you expect to be charged with desertion, AWOL, or any other charges or if you need a court-martial appeals attorney, the experts at Elkus, Sisson & Rosenstein can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our offices in Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado, we represent service members of all ranks, in all branches, anywhere in the world.


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