GI Rights Hotline

Military Discharges and Military Counseling

Call 1-877-447-4487

Dependency or Hardship Discharge

Some men and women in the military have family problems which can be resolved only by their discharge from the military. You can apply for a discharge based on the “genuine dependency or undue hardship” being a member of the military is causing if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The hardship is severe and not temporary.
  • It has developed or gotten worse since your entry into the military.
  • You have made every reasonable effort to improve the situation before applying for a hardship discharge.
  • Separation from the military is the only solution to the problem.

Consider applying for a hardship or dependency discharge if you have a sick parent, spouse or child who needs your care, or a family member is unable to make ends meet without your presence and help. Remember that the demands of the situation should be greater than the were at the time of the last enlistment/reenlistment.

Applying for a hardship or dependency separation can result in either discharge or transfer to the inactive (non-drilling) reserves. Characterization of service will normally be Honorable or, when the service record has issues, General (under Honorable Conditions). Servicemembers may also apply to be reassigned closer to home for hardships of shorter length. This is called a compassionate reassignment. 

Hardship and dependency conditions are based on the financial, emotional, and physical needs of a your immediate family. However, families of servicemembers often experience some financial hardship or psychological strain because of the disruptions of family life associated with normal military duty. To be granted discharge, you must be experiencing conditions that are worse than what is normal for military service. In the words of the military, grounds for hardship or dependency discharge do “not necessarily exist solely because of altered present or expected income, family separation, or other inconveniences normally incident to Military Service.” For example, you are not eligible for a discharge simply because you could be making more money as a civilian.