Reasons for a Dishonorable Discharge


You might have noticed that a member of the United States Armed Forces who is now a civilian has two primary classifications: 1. Honorable Discharge or 2. Dishonorable Discharge. Dishonorable discharges can penalize individuals for the rest of their lives. What are the reasons for a dishonorable discharge?

High Crimes & Misdemeanors

If someone committed a crime in the Armed Forces, he would simply be called a felon, right? Therefore, a dishonorable discharge must not be based merely on law. It must be based on the military code of ethics.

What is this Code of Ethics?

Each of the military branches has its own code of conduct and ethics. These will emphasize loyalty, commitment, honor, performance and patriotism during the term of service.

Marines Honorable Discharge

When a Marine exceeds all of the expectations for his service for missions, units, proficiency and personal conduct, he can be get an honorable discharge. Individuals might have psychological or medical excuses for not serving. But, these do not impair a Marine from being rewarded with an honorable discharge.

There is a satisfactory rating for Marines called “General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions.” This is not as good as an honorable discharge. Even Marines that are punished might still receive this satisfactory rating.

Marines even have the “Other Than Honorable Discharge,” which is for violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This governs security violations.

What is Court Martial?

A court martial simply means a military court. You might be surprised to see that people in the military are not tried before civilian courts. The truth is that when soldiers leave the military, they can be punished in civilian courts.

The Marines might charge those who have faced court-martial with a “Bad Conduct Discharge.” These individuals might be placed in a military prison (called the brig).

Absent Without Leave

Every second of a soldier’s life is regulated. That is why they use military time. They are told when to get up and when to go to sleep.

If a soldier is Absent Without Leave (AWOL), he might receive a dishonorable discharge. If he leaves his post, he might receive a dishonorable discharge. If he does not obey orders, he might receive a dishonorable discharge.

Sedition might also lead to dishonorable discharge. Sedition is a step below treason. The crime of sedition is a plot to overthrow the government of the United States of America.

Dishonorable Discharge Penalties

The DD-214 form is used for discharge from the Marines. The dishonorably discharged soldier might not receive veteran’s unemployment or financial benefits, such as VA loans or the G.I. Bill. They might not be able to own guns, vote or hold office.

The most severe discharge for enlisted Marines is the dishonorable discharge. This is usually reserved for murder, desertion, sedition or high treason.