Discharge Upgrades


Public Counsel’s Amanda Pertusati (center), Interim Directing Attorney of our Center for Veterans’ Advancement, stands with two veterans during an discharge upgrade clinic at Public Counsel.

Service members experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury do not always receive the treatment they need in the military. As a result, their symptoms often persist and are misconstrued as misconduct leading to a less-than-honorable discharge. They are thrown out with little support on the other side from veteran service providers and the VA.

When a job-seeking veteran lists their military service on a resume, the employer will likely request to see his or her military separation document, which includes the type of discharge they received and the reason they separated from the military. Disclosing a less-than-honorable discharge or that they were prematurely kicked out for misconduct opens them up to discrimination and creates a significant barrier to employment.

Public Counsel is Proud to support veterans with discharge upgrades. A successful upgrade can help a veteran’s employment and housing prospects, and provide access to benefits and supports that they were previously denied.

Public Counsel also regularly partners with pro bono lawyers — from major law firms, corporate in-house legal departments, and government law offices — to hold discharge upgrade clinics to help veterans draft the legal forms and factual declarations necessary to apply for an upgraded discharge status. We appreciate our nation’s veterans for their efforts to collaborate with our volunteers and for having the courage to relive and retell the circumstances of their initial erroneous discharge.

Public Counsel assists with Discharge Upgrades for veterans who have:

  • A service-related mental health condition including PTSD
  • A service-related Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Experienced sexual assault and/or sexual harassment in service
  • Individuals that have been separated under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
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