Administrative Separation Boards, Administrative Discharge Boards, or Boards
of Inquiry, are forums in which Servicemembers may be processed for administrative
discharge ending their military careers. Each military service has its
own unique regulations governing the proceedings. For example, U.S. Army
administers Administrative Separation Boards for enlisted under Army Regulation 635-200,
Enlisted Administrative Separations; U.S. Navy separates officers under SECNAVINST 1920.6C.
Here is what you should know about administrative separation boards:
1. The standard of proof for administrative separation board hearings is
preponderance of evidence. This standard is much lower than beyond reasonable
doubt. This does not require the trial counsel to prove his or her case
for discharge beyond reasonable doubt.
2. The hearings are not governed by Military Rules of Evidence. Hearsay
is admissible. This allows the trial counsel to present more evidence
which normally would be inadmissible or otherwise objectionable.
3. Administrative separation boards may mean an early end to an otherwise
successful military career, just like a court-martial. Hundreds of thousands
of dollars in retirement pay could be lost. The characterization of discharge
may affect veteran's benefits, employment opportunities, and other matters.
4. Generally, there are 3 characterizations of service that boards may
determine: honorable, general (under honorable conditions), and other
than honorable discharge.
5. Normally, it is best not to waive an administrative separation board.
This is because each Servicemember, with enough time in, has a right to
a fair hearing regarding his or her continued service. Also, Military
Service Boards (Army Board for Correction of Military Records, or Board
of Correction for Naval Records) that upgrade characterizations of discharges
are less likely to upgrade them for a Servicemember who waived his administrative
When faced with an administrative separation board, you must take it seriously
and act quickly. Retain an attorney who is familiar with a particular
Military Service, knows the military law on administrative separations,
and will zealously advocate on your behalf to increase your chances of
being retained. For example, under AR 635-200, prior to an administrative
separation board, each Servicemember must be counseled and allowed to
rehabilitate. However, sometimes commanders initiate administrative separation
boards without any counseling or opportunities to rehabilitate. By retaining
an attorney who can effectively point this out to the administrative separation
board, a Servicemember may prevail and be allowed to serve. Military law
attorneys at The Federal Practice Group are available for consultation
and ready to assist Servicemembers in prevaling during their administrative