AR20180000942

1. Applicant’s Name:

a. Application Date: 8 February 2017

b. Date Received: 13 February 2017

c. Next of Kin: Mrs. Amanda M. Whittaker

2. REQUEST, ISSUES, BOARD TYPE, AND DECISION: The former service member’s next of kin,
requests an upgrade of the former service member’s general (under honorable conditions)
discharge to honorable. The next of kin seeks relief contending, in effect, the former service
member was suffering from PTSD and a bipolar disorder, which affected his behavior and he was
not able to use good judgement or make good decisions. These service-connected mental
illnesses, stemming from his combat service, led to the former service member’s AWOLs.

The next of kin states, the former service member had sought treatment for PTSD and bipolar
disorder on multiple occasions between 2008 and 2012. He was in the process for medical
retirement for these conditions, but he was denied by his commander and discharged. The next
of kin states, the command should have sent the former service member for further treatment and
medical help. The former service member died in October 2012 as a result of his discharge and
illness and has left his family with no benefits.

Per the Board’s Medical Officer, a voting member, based on the information available for review
at the time in the service record, the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application
(AHLTA), and Joint Legacy Viewer (JLV) there was a nexus between a behavioral health
condition and the misconduct, which led to the applicant’s separation from the Army. The
Applicant’s diagnosis of a Behavioral Health condition and mental status at the time of the
misconduct mitigate the misconduct.

In a records review conducted at Arlington, VA on 7 March 2018, and by a 5-0 vote, the Board
determined that the discharge was too harsh based on the applicant’s length and quality of
service, to include combat service, a prior period of honorable service, in-service diagnoses of
PTSD and OBH and as a result it is inequitable. Accordingly, the Board voted to grant relief in
the form of an upgrade of the characterization of service to honorable and changed to the
separation authority to AR 635-200, Chapter 14-12a, the narrative reason for separation to
Misconduct (Minor Infractions) and the separation code to JKN.

(Board member names available upon request)

3. DISCHARGE DETAILS:

a. Reason / Authority / Codes / Characterization: Misconduct (AWOL) / AR 635-200 /
Chapter 14-12c (1) / JKD / RE-3 / General (Under Honorable Conditions)

b. Date of Discharge: 5 April 2012

c. Separation Facts:

(1) Date of Notification of Intent to Separate: 13 July 2011

(2) Basis for Separation: The former service member was informed of the following
reasons: He was absent without leave from 19 June 2008 until 21 July 2009; from 3 May 2011
until 16 May 2011; and, from 4 June 2011 until 8 June 2011. Additionally, he was confined from
25 March 2010 until 13 May 2010.

(3) Recommended Characterization: General (Under Honorable Conditions)

(4) Legal Consultation Date: 2 August 2011

(5) Administrative Separation Board: NA

(6) Separation Decision Date / Characterization: 9 March 2012 / General (Under
Honorable Conditions)

4. SERVICE DETAILS:

a. Date / Period of Enlistment: 19 February 2008 / NIF

b. Age at Enlistment / Education / GT Score: 24 / HS Graduate / 126

c. Highest Grade Achieved / MOS / Total Service: E-4 / 89B10, Ammunition Specialist /
5 years, 7 months, 13 days

d. Prior Service / Characterizations: RA, 19 May 2005 – 18 February 2008 / HD

e. Overseas Service / Combat Service: SWA / Iraq (7 February 2007 – 20 April 2008)

f. Awards and Decorations: ARCOM, NDSM, GWOTSM, ICM-CS, ASR, OSR, CAB

g. Performance Ratings: NA

h. Disciplinary Action(s) / Evidentiary Record:

Report of result of Trial, reflects the former service member was tried in a Special Court-Martial
on 25 March 2010. The former service member was charged with a violation of Article 85,
UCMJ, for absenting himself from his unit from 19 June 2008 to 20 July 2009, in desertion. The
former service member pled guilty to a lessor charge of AWOL, under Article 86, UCMJ.
Sentence: Reduction to E-1; forfeiture $500 pay per month for 2 months; and, confinement for
60 days.

CID Report of Investigation – Initial Final, dated 14 July 2011, reflects an investigation
established probable cause to believe the former service member committed the offenses of
Wrongful Use of a Controlled Substance when he submitted a urine specimen on 14 July 2011,
which subsequently tested positive for marijuana. The former service member provided a sworn
statement wherein he admitted to the wrongful use and possession of a controlled substance
when he smoked marijuana in his vehicle.

Electronic Copy of DD Form 2624, dated 22 July 2011, reflects the former service member
tested positive for THC 38 (marijuana), during an Inspection Random (IR) urinalysis testing,
conducted on 14 July 2011.

i. Lost Time / Mode of Return: 457 days (AWOL, 19 June 2008 – 20 July 2009; 3 May
2011 – 15 May 2011/ Former Service Member Returned to Duty; 25 May 2011) (Confinement,
25 March 2010 – 12 May 2010) / NIF

Eight Personnel Action forms, reflect the former service member’s duty status changed as
follows:

From “Present for Duty (PDY)” to “Absent Without Leave (AWOL),” effective 19 June 2008;
From “AWOL” to “PDY,” effective 21 July 2009;
From PDY to “Confined by Military Authorities (CMA)” effective 25 March 2010;
From “CMA” to “PDY,” effective 13 May 2010;
From “PDY” to “AWOL,” effective 3 May 2011;
From “AWOL” to “PDY,” effective 16 May 2011;
From “PDY” to “AWOL,” effective 4 June 2011; and,
From “AWOL” to “PDY,” effective 8 June 2011.

j. Diagnosed PTSD / TBI / Behavioral Health: Medical Evaluation Board Proceedings,
dated 25 November 2011, reflects the former service member was diagnosed with a Bipolar I
Disorder Most Recent Episode manic In Partial Remission.

Report of Mental Status Evaluation, dated 3 August 2012, reflects the former service member
was cleared for administrative actions deemed appropriate by the command. The former
service member could understand the difference between right and wrong and could participate
in the proceedings. The former service member was diagnosed with a Bipolar Disorder.

5. APPLICANT-PROVIDED EVIDENCE: DD Form 214; DD Form 293; copies of medical treatment
records; MEB proceedings; separation packet; Next of Kin documentation; and, service records.

6. POST SERVICE ACCOMPLISHMENTS: None submitted with the application.

7. REGULATORY CITATION(S): Army Regulation 635-200 sets forth the basic authority for the
separation of enlisted personnel. Chapter 14 establishes policy and prescribes procedures for
separating members for misconduct. Specific categories include minor disciplinary infractions, a
pattern of misconduct, and commission of a serious offense, to include abuse of illegal drugs,
convictions by civil authorities and desertion or being absent without leave. Action will be taken
to separate a member for misconduct when it is clearly established that rehabilitation is
impractical or unlikely to succeed. Army policy states that an under other than honorable
conditions discharge is normally considered appropriate; however, a general (under honorable
conditions) or an honorable discharge may be granted.

Paragraph 14-12c(1) allows for an absentee returned to military control from a status of absent
without leave or desertion to be separated for commission of a serious offense.

National Defense Authorization Act 2017 provided specific guidance to the Military Boards for
Correction of Military/Naval Records and Discharge Review Boards when considering discharge
upgrade requests by Veterans claiming Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic
Brain Injury (TBI) in connection with combat or sexual assault or sexual harassment as a basis
for discharge review. Further, it provided that Boards will include, as a voting board member, a
physician trained in mental health disorders, a clinical psychologist, or a psychiatrist when the
discharge upgrade claim asserts a mental health condition, including PTSD; TBI; as a basis for
the discharge.

In August 2017, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness
provided further clarifying guidance to the Military Discharge Review Boards and Boards for
Correction of Military/Naval Records when considering requests by Veterans for modification of
their discharge due to mental health conditions, including PTSD; TBI; sexual assault; or sexual
harassment. Liberal consideration will be given to Veterans petitioning for discharge relief when
the application for relief is based in whole or in part on matters relating to mental health
conditions, including PTSD; TBI; sexual assault; or sexual harassment. Special consideration
will be given to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) determinations that document a mental
health condition, including PTSD; TBI; or sexual assault/harassment potentially contributed to
the circumstances resulting in a less than honorable discharge characterization. Special
consideration will also be given in cases where a civilian provider confers diagnoses of a mental
health condition, including PTSD; TBI; or sexual assault/harassment if the case records contain
narratives supporting symptomatology at the time of service or when any other evidence which
may reasonably indicate that a mental health condition, including PTSD; TBI; or sexual
assault/harassment existed at the time of discharge might have mitigated the misconduct that
caused a discharge of lesser characterization.

Conditions documented in the service record that can reasonably be determined to have existed
at the time of discharge will be considered to have existed at the time of discharge. In cases in
which a mental health condition, including PTSD; TBI; or sexual assault/harassment may be
reasonably determined to have existed at the time of discharge, those conditions will be
considered potential mitigating factors in the misconduct that caused the characterization of
service in question. All Boards will exercise caution in weighing evidence of mitigation in cases
in which serious misconduct precipitated a discharge with a less than Honorable
characterization of service. Potentially mitigating evidence of the existence of undiagnosed
combat related PTSD, PTSD-related conditions due to TBI or sexual assault/harassment as
causative factors in the misconduct resulting in discharge will be carefully weighed against the
severity of the misconduct. PTSD is not a likely cause of premeditated misconduct. Caution
shall be exercised in weighing evidence of mitigation in all cases of misconduct by carefully
considering the likely causal relationship of symptoms to the misconduct.

8. DISCUSSION OF FACT(S): The former service member’s next of kin, requests an upgrade of
the former service member’s general (under honorable conditions) discharge to honorable. The
former service member’s record of service, the issues and documents submitted with his
application were carefully reviewed.

The record confirms that the former service member’s discharge was appropriate because the
quality of his service was not consistent with the Army’s standards for acceptable personal
conduct and performance of duty by military personnel. It brought discredit on the Army, and
was prejudicial to good order and discipline.

The next of kin provided no independent corroborating evidence demonstrating that either the
command’s action was erroneous or that the former service member’s service mitigated the
misconduct or poor duty performance, such that he should have been retained on Active Duty.

The next of kin contends that the former service member had been treated for PTSD and
Bipolar disorder, which were service connected. These conditions affected the former service
member’s behavior, which led to his discharge. However, a careful review of the entire record
reveals that this medical condition did not overcome the reason for discharge and
characterization of service granted. The record reflects that on 3 August 2012, the former
service member underwent a mental status evaluation which indicates he was mentally
responsible and was able to recognize right from wrong. It appears the former service
member’s chain of command determined that he knew the difference between what was right
and wrong as indicated by the mental status evaluation.

The next of kin contends the former service member’s commander should have let the former
service member continue treatment. However, the record does not contain any indication or
evidence of arbitrary or capricious actions by the command and all requirements of law and
regulation were met and the rights of the former service member were fully protected throughout
the separation process. The character of the former service member’s discharge is
commensurate with his overall service record.

The next of kin contends that an upgrade of the former service member’s discharge would allow
his family benefits. However, eligibility for veteran’s benefits to include educational benefits
under the Post-9/11 or Montgomery GI Bill does not fall within the purview of the Army
Discharge Review Board. Accordingly, the next of kin should contact a local office of the
Department of Veterans Affairs for further assistance.

The discharge was consistent with the procedural and substantive requirements of the
regulation, was within the discretion of the separation authority, and the former service member
was provided full administrative due process.

9. BOARD DETERMINATION: In a records review conducted at Arlington, VA on 7 March 2018,
and by a 5-0 vote, the Board determined that the discharge was too harsh based on the
applicant’s length and quality of service, to include combat service, a prior period of honorable
service, in-service diagnoses of PTSD and OBH and as a result it is inequitable. Accordingly,
the Board voted to grant relief in the form of an upgrade of the characterization of service to
honorable and changed to the separation authority to AR 635-200, Chapter 14-12a, the
narrative reason for separation to Misconduct (Minor Infractions) and the separation code to
JKN.

10. BOARD ACTION DIRECTED:

a. Issue a New DD-214: Yes

b. Change Characterization to: Honorable

c. Change Reason to: Misconduct (Minor Infractions)

d. Change Authority to: AR 635-200, Chapter 14-12a

e. Change SPD/RE Code to: Change SPD to JKN / No change to RE code

f. Restore Grade to: No Change

Authenticating Official:

Legend:
AWOL – Absent Without Leave GD – General Discharge NCO – Noncommissioned Officer SCM – Summary Court Martial
BCD – Bad Conduct Discharge HS – High School NIF – Not in File SPCM – Special Court Martial
BH – Behavioral Health HD – Honorable Discharge NOS – Not Otherwise Specified SPD – Separation Program Designator
CG – Company Grade Article 15 IADT – Initial Active Duty Training OAD – Ordered to Active Duty TBI – Traumatic Brain Injury
CID – Criminal Investigation Division MP – Military Police OMPF – Official Military Personnel File UNC – Uncharacterized Discharge
ELS – Entry Level Status MST – Military Sexual Trauma PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder UOTHC – Under Other Than Honorable Conditions
FG – Field Grade Article 15 NA – Not applicable RE – Reentry VA – Veterans Affairs
ARMY DISCHARGE REVIEW BOARD CASE REPORT AND DIRECTIVE
AR20180000942
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