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Anything other than an honorable discharge can have a major impact upon your permanent military record, your eligibility for military benefits, and your ability to secure employment outside of the military.
An other than honorable discharge (OTH) is the most severe form of administrative discharge. This type of discharge may be given for a serious departure from the conduct and performance expected of all military members. OTH discharges are typically given to service members convicted by a civilian court in which a sentence of confinement has been adjudged or in which the conduct leading to the conviction brings discredit upon the service. It can also be given as the result of certain civil hearings. OTH discharges can be accepted in-lieu of court-martial proceedings at the service-member's request. Persons facing OTH have the right under the Uniform Code of Military Justice to have their discharge heard by an administrative discharge board, which is similar to a court-martial but is not a public forum.
Recipients of OTH discharges are barred from reenlisting into any component of the Armed Forces (including the reserves), and are normally barred from joining the Army and Air National Guard, except under rare circumstances which require exception-to-policy waivers. As of September 2006, all 50 states had policies barring the reenlistment of UOTHC discharge recipients.
Most veterans' benefits are typically not available to individuals who receive an other than honorable conditions discharge, including the Montgomery GI Bill and (in most cases) VA healthcare benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs will make its own determination with respect as to whether the OTH was based on conditions which would forfeit any or all VA benefits. Most veterans' benefits will be forfeited if that determination is adverse to the former service-member, such as when based on the following circumstances: (1) desertion; (2) escape prior to trial by general court-martial; (3) conscientious objector who refuses to perform military duties, wear the uniform, or comply with lawful orders of competent military authorities; (4) willful or persistent misconduct; (5) offense(s) involving moral turpitude; (6) mutiny or spying; or (7) homosexual acts involving aggravating circumstances.