Securing Honorable Discharge Post Article 15: Is It Possible?

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Facing an Article 15 can be daunting, and you might worry about its impact on your military discharge. It’s a common concern—will one mistake tarnish your record permanently? You’re not alone in seeking clarity on this matter.

The good news is that an Article 15 doesn’t automatically spell the end of an honorable discharge. Your military career is a tapestry of service, and a single non-judicial punishment doesn’t define it. Let’s unpack what this means for your discharge status and future.

Understanding the nuances of military discipline and discharge types is crucial. Stick around as we dive into how an Article 15 might affect your discharge and what steps you can take to maintain an honorable standing.

What is an Article 15?

When you’re faced with an Article 15, it’s crucial to understand what it entails. Also known as non-judicial punishment, it’s a disciplinary measure that allows commanders to address alleged minor misconduct within the ranks. It provides a prompt means of maintaining good order and discipline without the need for a formal court-martial.

An Article 15 is governed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and there are three types of non-judicial punishments under this framework:

  • Summary Article 15: For minor offenses, typically handled by a company commander.
  • Company Grade Article 15: Involves more serious allegations and is conducted by an O-3 grade or company-level commander.
  • Field Grade Article 15: Addressed by an O-4 grade or higher and involves more serious consequences.

Receiving an Article 15 offers you certain rights. You have the right to:

  • Be informed of the charges against you.
  • Review the evidence.
  • Request a trial by court-martial instead.
  • Present witnesses and evidence in your defense.
  • Be accompanied by someone to speak on your behalf, often a lawyer or non-commissioned officer.

The outcomes of an Article 15 can vary. Punishments might include:

  • Extra duties.
  • Reduction in pay grade.
  • Restrictions.
  • Correctional custody for enlisted members.

However, it’s worth noting that an Article 15 is not a criminal conviction, and therefore, it does not go on your civilian record, although it will be part of your military record. It’s a tool used within the military to deal with infractions that do not warrant more severe judicial processes.

Facing an Article 15 can be intimidating, but with proper knowledge and understanding of your rights and potential defenses, it is possible to mitigate the impact on your military career. Being aware of the gravity of an Article 15, as well as the related procedures, can empower you to take control of the situation and work towards maintaining an honorable standing within the military.

Different Types of Military Discharges

Understanding the types of military discharges is crucial as you navigate the potential consequences of an Article 15. In the US Armed Forces, there are five main types of discharges, each reflecting the nature of your service and the circumstances surrounding your separation.

Honorable Discharge represents the highest level of discharge you can receive. It signifies that your service was consistently good to excellent, and you met or exceeded the required standards of duty performance and personal conduct. An honorable discharge can indeed be achieved following an Article 15, provided you’ve demonstrated exceptional performance and adherence to military standards thereafter.

General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions is a notch below an honorable discharge. This indicates that while your service was commendable, there were some minor disciplinary or performance issues. If an Article 15 is a blemish on your record, this type of discharge may be more likely unless you’ve taken significant steps to rectify your standing.

Other Than Honorable (OTH) Discharge is issued for more serious infractions that fall short of a court-martial. An OTH discharge can have significant negative implications for your post-military life, including the loss of certain veterans’ benefits.

Bad Conduct Discharge (BCD), also known as a “Big Chicken Dinner,” is the result of a court-martial for serious violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). A BCD is more severe than an OTH discharge and carries heavier consequences.

Dishonorable Discharge is the most severe punishment and is reserved for the gravest misconduct or crimes. This type of discharge will strip you of nearly all military and VA benefits and is akin to having a felony conviction on your civilian record.

Your actions and performance post-Article 15 play a significant role in the type of discharge you may receive. It’s imperative to understand that the quality of your discharge affects your future opportunities, both within the military and in civilian life. Making amends and maintaining a professional demeanor could sway the decision in favor of a more favorable discharge status. Keep striving for excellence, as the opportunity to prove your value to the military and earn an honorable discharge is within your grasp with dedication and hard work.

Impact of an Article 15 on Military Discharge

An Article 15 can be a significant blemish on your military record, but it doesn’t necessarily preclude you from receiving an honorable discharge. The type of discharge you’re eligible for hinges on your conduct following the Article 15 and throughout your military career. Military discharges fall into several categories: Honorable, General (Under Honorable Conditions), Other Than Honorable (OTH), Bad Conduct, and Dishonorable. An honorable discharge is still within reach if you demonstrate exemplary behavior post-Article 15.

Your command will closely scrutinize your actions after an Article 15. A strong rebound can positively influence your discharge status. You’ll need to:

  • Show consistent improvement in conduct
  • Excel in your duties
  • Exhibit leadership qualities
  • Avoid further disciplinary issues

Remember, an Article 15 is a corrective measure, not a punitive action intended to end your military career. Following this event, it’s crucial to understand that you’re often given a chance to restore your standing within the military. Persistence in rehabilitation efforts and maintaining a clean service record post-Article 15 significantly increase the odds for an honorable discharge.

The key factors your command will consider when determining your discharge type include:

  • Overall service record
  • Severity of the incident leading to the Article 15
  • Behavioral patterns before and after the infraction
Factor Influence on Discharge Type
Overall Service Record High
Severity of Incident Moderate to High
Behavior Post-Infraction High

Ultimately, the impact of an Article 15 on your discharge varies based on individual circumstances. Each case is unique, and command discretion plays a critical role. If you’re proactive about your rehabilitation and continue to fulfill your duties honorably, an Article 15 may become just a minor setback in an otherwise commendable military career. Keep striving for excellence, align your actions with military values, and you’ll enhance your chances of securing the honorable discharge you aim for.

Factors That Affect an Honorable Discharge

After you’ve received an Article 15, there are specific factors that play a pivotal role in determining whether you’ll leave the military with an honorable discharge. Your overall service record is one of the most significant components. It encompasses your entire span of military conduct, achievements, and recognition. Your command will meticulously review your performance evaluations and any awards or commendations you may have earned. They’ll be looking for patterns of behavior that suggest a strong moral character and dedication to duty.

Another critical element involved is the severity of the infraction that led to the Article 15. Violations considered minor and not habitual could be outweighed by your subsequent exemplary behavior. Alternatively, more serious offenses might complicate your pursuit of an honorable discharge, but they don’t make it impossible. Your actions post-Article 15 matter enormously—demonstrations of genuine repentance and improvement can tilt the scales in your favor.

Your excellence in leadership and skill proficiency can also significantly influence the discharge process. If you’ve taken on additional responsibilities, shown leadership capabilities, or advanced your skill set, these factors will contribute positively towards rehabilitating your military image.

Lastly, the recommendations of your commanding officer and peers are influential. If they can attest to your positive contributions and transformation following an Article 15, their support may be a critical factor in the final decision.

It’s essential to understand that receiving an Article 15 doesn’t automatically preclude you from an honorable discharge. As you navigate the aftermath, remember that a pattern of consistent integrity, diligent service, and sustained excellence are your strongest allies in securing the favorable exit from the military you’re aiming for.

Steps to Maintain an Honorable Discharge

Facing an Article 15 doesn’t spell the end of your military career, nor does it ensure that you’ll be ineligible for an honorable discharge. However, it does signify that you’ll need to be proactive about your future in the armed forces. Below are key steps you can take to maintain eligibility for an honorable discharge after receiving an Article 15.

Firstly, evaluate the situation and understand the severity of your infraction. Reflect on the actions that led to the Article 15, and recognize what must change. Regular self-assessment is crucial as it keeps you aligned with the military’s values and regulations.

Secondly, focus on improving your performance and conduct. Excelling at your duties and going above and beyond can greatly increase your chances of receiving a positive evaluation post-Article 15. Your commitment to improvement demonstrates your value to your unit and your dedication to service.

  • Attend all required trainings and development programs
  • Seek opportunities that enhance your skills and leadership capabilities
  • Maintain a positive rapport with peers and superiors
  • Volunteer for extra duties or community service

Documentation of your progress is also vital. Request regular feedback from superiors, and build a portfolio of commendations and positive reports. These records can be essential in showcasing your growth and professional development when it’s time for your discharge evaluation.

Finally, staying out of further trouble is imperative. One Article 15 may be considered a mishap, but repeated offenses could signal a pattern of behavior incompatible with military standards—jeopardizing your chances for an honorable discharge. Be mindful of your actions, and stay committed to a path that reflects the honor and discipline demanded by your service.


Receiving an Article 15 doesn’t have to define your military career or the nature of your discharge. You’ve got the power to turn things around by committing to exemplary conduct and performance from this point forward. Remember, it’s your actions after the fact that will weigh heavily on the type of discharge you receive. Stay focused, be proactive in your professional development, and keep a clean record. Show your superiors that you’ve learned from your mistakes and are a valuable member of the team. With dedication and hard work, you can still achieve an honorable discharge and leave the military with your head held high.


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