Congresswoman Elaine Luria Passes Amendment to FY21 NDAA to Require Study on Uncharacterized Discharges

July 1, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House Armed Services Committee unanimously passed Congresswoman Elaine Luria’s amendment to the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act that requires the Service Secretaries to report on the use of uncharacterized discharges for servicemembers who have served more than 6 months, but less than 8 years.

“Uncharacterized discharges are forbidden by Military Justice Manuals and prohibited by Military Separations Manuals, yet some servicemembers are still subject to these punitive measures that amount to extrajudicial punishment,” said Congresswoman Luria. “I look forward to reviewing the content of the report to understand the scope of this problem and work to correct this unfair process.”

A discharge from the military services includes a characterization of the quality of one’s service while on active duty. The options are an honorable discharge, general discharge under honorable conditions, other than honorable conditions discharge, bad conduct discharge, or a dishonorable discharge. There is one other type of discharge known as an “entry level” discharge, which is intended for individuals who have served for less than six months, during which they have not served long enough for the military to fairly characterize their service. This is sometimes called an uncharacterized discharge, which comes with no veterans’ benefits.

Congresswoman Luria’s amendment will shed light on the extent to which the uncharacterized discharge has been incorrectly applied to servicemembers who served for longer than six months, but for less than eight years.

As Chair of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA), Congresswoman Luria has conducted pivotal oversight on undue burdens placed on veterans seeking their earned benefits. On July 8, 2020, Chair Luria will lead a DAMA hearing to discuss how the inaccurate application of uncharacterized discharges have prevented veterans from receiving the benefits they have earned from their service.

Click here for the amendment text.

Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the Vice Chair of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.