As a veteran, you probably have at least one military record. Military records are very important to veterans. They're needed for a variety of reasons. Some examples include:
What do you do if something in your military records is incorrect? Misinformation can really make it difficult to receive benefits you deserve. If you notice a mistake, make sure to get your records corrected as soon as you can.
Board for Corrections of Records
Most military service records are stored by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). However, NARA doesn't have the power to make any corrections. Each military service has its own board to correct records. The names of the boards are:
The boards have broad power to correct any error in a military record or remove an injustice. Most of their decisions are binding on each of the military services.
Applying for a Military Record Correction
The most common way to request a record change or correction is to submit a DD Form 149, Application for Correction of Military Records. The form is easy to follow and very straightforward. You must type or print all the information asked for and sign at the bottom. Send it to the address found on the form.
The boards require you to submit any correction applications within three years from the date you discovered the error. However, they'll usually waive this requirement if you have a good explanation for why you missed the deadline.
Information Needed to Correct Military Records
A correction board won't just grant your request without evidence. You need to show there's an error or an injustice. Make sure to include a detailed statement about the error on your application. If you need more space, you can write on other paper and attach it to the form.
Try to include written statements from other people. People with direct knowledge of the error will be some of the best and most convincing evidence you can submit. Any other evidence proving your record is incorrect should also be sent to the board.
Military Record Correction Decision Process
After you request a record change, the board will examine all the evidence and determine whether you proved there was a mistake. You can request a hearing before the board on the application. However, you've no right to a hearing, and they're very rarely granted. A majority vote of the members of the board is taken to determine whether to grant your request.
If you do have a hearing, you can ask witnesses to testify in front of the board. The hearing is informal and doesn't have the normal evidence restrictions of a formal trial. Therefore, you can use videotapes of your witnesses if they can't show up for your hearing. If you'll gain a valuable VA benefit from the record correction, you may want to use an attorney who has experience in correcting military records.
Options if Military Record Correction Is Denied
If your correction application is denied, it may just mean you failed to show enough evidence to prove the error. You can file an application to reconsider the decision. Include any evidence you didn't submit before along with the evidence you did submit. If the board accepts the application, it'll decide your request as if it's an original application.
You also can file a lawsuit in federal court if your request is denied. You must sue the military service with which the board is connected. However, this legal option can be expensive and time-consuming. Make sure the correction is worth the time and money.
Questions for Your Attorney
- What are the benefits of having an attorney help me correct my military records?
- What can I do if a witness refuses to give me a written statement for correction evidence?
- If I forget to include certain evidence, can I send it to the correction board as long as it hasn't made a decision yet?