Sometimes we get calls from military members who, after several years in, are hoping to be discharged for “failure to adapt.” Previously we would explain that by itself, failure to adapt was only a basis for discharge during the first six months of active duty. Now failure to adapt and some other entry level conditions can be a basis for separation for up to a year because the Department of Defense has extended the period of time known as “entry level status.” DOD Directive 1332.14, Enlisted Administrative Separations, now defines entry level status as the first 365 days of continuous active military service. If there is a break of more than 92 days in active service, the entry level status ends 365 days following that break in service.
For reservists, entry level status begins when they report for active duty training and now ends 365 days later if the training is uninterrupted. For split op training (when IADT is divided into two separate periods of active duty), entry level status ends 180 days after the beginning of the second period of training.
These changes went into effect as of 23 December 2022. Previously entry level status ended after the member’s first 180 days of continuous active military service. The new change doubles the period when commands can separate people who aren’t adapting to military life, even when there is not a recognized medical or psychological diagnosis of an unfitting condition or documented evidence of misconduct. At the same time, anyone who receives this “uncharacterized” discharge will be ineligible for the portion of GI Bill benefits they might have received if their service had been characterized as honorable.
Army regulations had already shortened the window for an entry level separation (ELS) for anyone who has already completed initial entry training and been assigned their MOS. Those soldiers, even if they were in less than 180 days, had to be separated under some other chapter (category of discharge) instead. Absent other changes to Army regulations, the new rule will therefore only affect soldiers still in training beyond 180 days (and up to 365 days).
We encourage military members who want to learn more about the ELS (entry level separation) to call the GI Rights Hotline (877 447 4487) and talk to a counselor about their options.