GI Rights Hotline

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Hardship Discharge Not As Hard As Many Think

Published by girights

Many members of the military with serious family issues never bother to apply for the hardship/dependency discharge because they have been told that they don't qualify, that it will take too long, or that nobody ever gets it. Often NCOs and sometimes even officers perpetuate the false notion that hardship/dependency discharges are practically unobtainable. In fact, that is not the case.

Counselors at the GI Rights Hotline have helped many people in the military get honorably discharged for hardship/dependency. Usually within 4-10 weeks after applying, people are free from their military obligations and able to help their family members.

“The problem is that no one gets discharged unless they apply,” says GI Rights counselor Lenore Yarger. “Many people who bring their family issues to the command are told that there is no way to get out and that they will 'just have to find some other way to deal with it.'"

But the regulations are a lot more supportive than many people realize. They contain language like: “Process applications for discharge under this provision quickly. Give them priority. Commanders, MPF personnel, and other agencies must provide maximum assistance to the member… If the case is not complete, help the airman get what it lacks” (AFI 36-3208). Or “When soldiers are eligible for separation, their separation will not be disapproved because their services are needed by their organization” (AR 635-200).

When turning down an application, commands must give reason for the denial, usually in writing. Often the stated reason becomes the basis for appealing the decision. Most legitimate cases are successful either initially or through appeal.

Hardship/Dependency discharges usually come down to two things: 1) having a situation that meets the definition in the regulations and 2) gathering clear documentation of the situation. GI Rights Hotline counselors (877-447-4487) are available to help with this. Anyone who is wondering whether a particular situation might be a basis for a hardship discharge can contact a hotline counselor to discuss the matter.