GI Rights Hotline

Military Discharges and Military Counseling

Call 1-877-447-4487

Dependency or Hardship Discharge

Air Force

After you read this fact sheet, please call the Hotline (877-447-4487) to talk over your options with a counselor.

AFI 36-3208 ADMINISTRATIVE SEPARATION OF AIRMEN 9 July 2004 (Incorporating Through Change 7, 2 July 2013)

AFI 36-3208 ADMINISTRATIVE SEPARATION OF AIRMEN 9 July 2004 (Incorporating Through Change 7, 2 July 2013) (1.3 MB)

Comments: To view or download the complete regulation, click on the link to it in the box above these comments.


Chapter 3

Section 3A - Processing Applications

3.1. How Airmen Apply for PETS Separation. Airmen who want to leave the active service of the Air Force PETS must ask for separation in writing. The MPF Personnel Relocation Element helps them make the application. Each paragraph in this chapter authorizing separation tells what is required to show a basis for separation exists...

Comments: "MPF" is Military Personnel Flight.


Section 3C - Dependency or Hardship

3.20. Conditions for Discharge. Airmen may request discharge when genuine dependency or undue hardship exists.

3.20.1. A basis for discharge may exist when: The dependency or hardship is not temporary. Conditions have arisen or have been aggravated to an excessive degree since the airman entered active duty. The airman has made every reasonable effort to remedy the situation. Separation will eliminate or materially alleviate the conditions. There are no means of alleviation readily available other than the separation.

3.20.2. Undue hardship or dependency does not necessarily exist because: Of altered present or expected income; or The family is separated or must suffer the inconveniences usually incident to military service.

3.21. Evidence Required. MPF personnel counsel airmen about the conditions for, and evidence needed to support separation for hardship or dependency. Written statements of the facts of the case support the application for discharge. The original, signed statements must accompany the application.

3.21.1. In some cases, specific types of statements are required. If the application is based on a condition that is: Due to the death of family member, a death certificate or other proof of death is required. Caused by the disability of a family member, a physician's statement must tell what the disability is and when it occurred. Basically a financial hardship, there must be evidence of prospective civilian employment with income that would exceed the member's military pay.

3.21.2. In all cases, the application should: State specifically the hardship or dependency condition. Give specific dates of events. List other family members with their ages, occupations, incomes, and locations. Tell why the other family members cannot give the care or support needed.

3.22. Red Cross Assistance. On request, the American Red Cross helps get, or verify, information about circumstances that may be a basis for discharge for hardship or dependency.


3.22.1. The Separation Authority. If it seems that an application should be approved, but more information is needed, the separation authority asks the local Red Cross representative to get it. The request gives the airman's name and home address with a summary of the evidence or statements submitted with the application. Limit the request to the facts needed to act on the case.

3.22.2. Airmen or their Dependents. Airmen or their dependents may ask local Red Cross chapters to help them get evidence they need to support an application for discharge. In these cases, the Red Cross does not make a formal report to the Air Force, unless it is requested (paragraph 3.22.1.).

3.23. Special Procedures and Considerations:

3.23.1. For information about where airmen apply for discharge under this section, see Table 3.2.

3.23.2. Process applications for discharge under this provision quickly. Give them priority. Commanders, MPF personnel, and other agencies must provide maximum assistance to the member.

3.23.3. If the case is not complete, help the airman get what it lacks. For information about Red Cross assistance, see paragraph 3.22.

3.23.4. Do not delay or disapprove discharge for dependency or hardship because the airman's services are needed in the organization. Indebtedness to the government is not a bar to separation.

3.23.5. If the airman is under court-martial charges or investigation that may result in the preferring of charges, an application for discharge under this section may be processed. If it is approved, the airman may not be discharged while the investigation or charges are pending except as provided in paragraph 1.9.

3.23.6. An application for discharge may show the airman had dependents who were not acknowledged at the time of enlistment. If so, consider the possibility of discharge for fraudulent or erroneous enlistment. The fraud or error may be waived to permit discharge under this section.

3.23.7. If a request for discharge is received from an airman's family, counsel the airman about how to apply for discharge. Do not approve a discharge until the member has applied in writing.

3.23.8. Airmen separated for hardship or dependency are discharged.

3.23.9. AFI 36-2002 restricts enlistment of prior service persons last discharged for dependency or hardship. Counsel the applicant about this restriction, get a signed statement reflecting understanding of the policy, and add it to the case file.

3.24. Final Action on Applications. The separation authority:

3.24.1. Approves the application and notifies the airman promptly; or

3.24.2. Disapproves the application and requires an officer or a noncommissioned officer in the MPF who understands separation policy to: Return the application to the airman; Explain how it was processed and why it was disapproved; Counsel the airman about other available alternatives such as application for separation for other reasons; and Ensure the airman's understanding that a new application may be submitted if the circumstances change. In such a case, new supporting evidence would be required.

3.25. Applications Submitted at Other Than the Base of Assignment. MPFs give extra help to airmen who apply for discharge while they are on leave or enroute PCS. The MPF that processes the application (Table 3.2.):

Comments: "PCS" is Permanent Change of Station.

3.25.1. Asks the applicant's commander to grant an extension of leave, if more time is needed for processing.

3.25.2. Communicates with the aerial port, if a port call must be changed or cancelled.

3.25.3. If the separation authority decides that the application warrants approval, sends a message (includes minimize) to the member's servicing MPF (use Figure 3.2. for personnel on leave or TDY and Figure 3.3. for personnel enroute to PCS). The servicing MPF will determine if there are any actions pending or reasons that would preclude approval and execution of the member's hardship discharge. If there are none, the servicing MPF will immediately reassign the member PCS without permanent change of assignment (PCA) for separation and furnish the processing MPF the special order number by return message.

Comments: "TDY" is Temporary Duty.