GI Rights Hotline

Military Discharges and Military Counseling

Call 1-877-447-4487

Grievances: Article 138 Complaints

Fact Sheet

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

Under Article 138 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, any member of the armed forces who believes himself or herself wronged by his or her commanding officer may request redress. By requesting redress the wronged member of the military is asking that the “problem” be addressed and fixed. Army Regulations [1] define a “wrong” as:

A discretionary act or omission by a commanding officer, under color of Federal military authority, that adversely affects the complainant personally and that is-

(1) In violation of law or regulation;
(2) Beyond the legitimate authority of that commanding officer;
(3) Arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion; or
(4) Materially unfair.

If the problem is not addressed and fixed by the commanding officer, a formal complaint (Article 138) can be made to a superior officer (higher in rank to the officer who is responsible for the problem). This will trigger an investigation into the problem by the court-martial convening authority over the commanding officer against which you brought the initial complaint. The investigator should, “examine the complaint and take proper measures for redressing the wrong complained of” [2] and should report their findings to the Secretary of the Army (or Navy, Air Force etc). Any retribution or reprisals for filing an Article 138 can be the basis for additional complaints.