The military may discharge for “other designated physical and mental conditions” servicemembers who have conditions that do not qualify for a disability discharge, but “that potentially interfere with assignment to or performance of duty….” Personality disorders are the most common grounds for discharge under other designated physical and mental conditions (ODPMC). In addition to personality disorders, grounds for discharge can include: seasickness, bedwetting, airsickness, sleep walking, certain allergies, severe nightmares, severe stuttering, obesity, and excessive height.
Consider seeking an ODPMC discharge if you experience emotional distress, difficulty in coping with military life, or an inability to behave and think as you would like to behave and think. While personality disorders are fairly complex, and real diagnoses can only come from a psychiatrist or psychologist, lay people can identify common symptoms and help to determine whether psychiatric evaluation is warranted. Common symptoms of some personality disorders include feeling depressed, helpless, or out of control, difficulty sleeping or inability to cope with work or people, or occasional thoughts of suicide.
A personality disorder is grounds for discharge only when “a diagnosis by a psychiatrist or psychologist…concludes that the disorder is so severe that the member’s ability to function effectively in the military environment is significantly impaired.” (Note: Military members who have deployed to an area designated as an imminent danger pay area usually must have their administrative separation approved by higher levels of command. In the Army and Air Force, that authority is the Surgeon General; Navy, MEB; and Marines, The Medical Officer/Director of Health Services of the Marine Corps (TMO))
This is a command-initiated discharge, which means there is no application procedure and you have no “right” to this discharge. Getting an early discharge is not easy and the procedures can be complicated. Discharge regulations are intended to give commanders control over their troops to maintain good order and discipline. You must persuade your command that a discharge is warranted and in the best interests of the military. You can call us at the GI Rights Hotline for help.
The regulations give commanding officers a great deal of discretion, and only minimal guidelines, for deciding whether or not discharge is appropriate. Policies may differ from one command to another (even within the same base) and a command can change policy without warning. The military normally will not discharge a member with a short-term and treatable condition. A common category of disorders known as “adjustment disorders” are not considered, except by the Air Force, to be of long enough duration to warrant discharge.