As with other vocations, it’s normal for one’s time with an organization to expire. Anyone who joins the military will eventually be discharged and return to civilian life as an American Veteran. The only ways to avoid discharge are to retire (in which case recall is a possibility) or to die while in service. Since most members of the military would prefer to avoid the latter, they will one day face either retirement or discharge.
Once you are accepted to the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard, your time with the organization you choose is limited to a term, after which you may choose to leave or renew your service. However, your choices may be limited depending on the reason for discharge. Here are the different categories of military discharge you may face.
This is the preferred method of discharge and it brings with it all the benefits allotted to military service members, including American veterans aid and G.I. Bill advantages. Honorable discharges are granted to service members who fulfill their obligations and complete a term of service honorably, professionally, and perhaps with distinction.
This type of discharge is often conflated with honorable discharge, but a general discharge occurs when military service is cut short due to illness, injury, or some types of unacceptable behavior. In such cases, there are generally no penalties associated with the discharge (such as legal charges, for example), but there may be detriments, such as denial of some benefits otherwise afforded to veterans.
Other Than Honorable
Other than honorable (OTH) discharge occurs when military members are charged with and convicted of civilian crimes having nothing to do with the quality of their military service. OTH discharge has serious consequences.
Not only are OTH discharges precluded from future military service (they may not reenlist even after they’ve paid their debt to society), but those who suffer this type of discharge are also denied benefits, including American veterans aid such as VA healthcare.
Military and civilian crimes do not always match up. When military members commit military crimes, they are tried and sentenced in military court and may be confined to military prison as a result. In addition, such instances will result in a discharge for bad conduct and denial of benefits.
This is often viewed as the worst circumstance for dismissal from military service and it results from serious breaches of duty (deserting one’s post, for example) or criminal offenses (such as murder). A military member that is dishonorably discharged will likely be shunned in the military community, denied benefits, and may even have trouble finding work in the civilian world as a result.