Military and Veterans Issues
“Fighting for Those Who Fought for Us!” ™
Most Americans have never served in the military. The majority of Americans have not been directly affected by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The attorneys at Baker Williams have experienced most aspects of military life as an enlisted person, spouse or parent. Not only do we know the laws that benefit the members of our armed services we have been there ourselves. Our firm handles Veterans’ Preference cases, USERRA, SCRA, Discharge Upgrades, Adverse Administrative Issues and more.
Veterans’ Preference provides a benefit to individuals who have served in the armed forces. The purpose of the act was to recognize the economic hardship and personal sacrifice of individuals who serve their country. Veterans’ Preference is used in hiring and terminating individuals in State and Federal employment. Baker Williams attorneys represent veterans whose rights have been violated under the Veterans’ Preference Act.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, more commonly known as USERRA, protects the employment rights of those who voluntarily or involuntarily leave their jobs for military service and certain types of service in the National Disaster Medical System. USERRA is meant to minimize the disadvantages that may be caused by service in the military. Virtually all employers, public and private, including the State and Federal governments are required to comply with USERRA. We represent servicemembers whose rights have been violated under USERRA.
There are many reasons why you may want to pursue an upgrade. You could be having trouble seeking employment, it could be preventing you from re-enlisting, maybe you are not able to get all of your veterans’ benefits, and sometimes you just want to set the record straight. Whatever is motivating you to consider a discharge upgrade we may be able to help.
Frequently Asked Questions about Veterans Preference
- Are there different Veterans’ Preference Acts?
In Minnesota there is a Veterans Preference Act for state and local government employment. Federal employees are covered by the a federal version of the Act.
- Who is a veteran under the Veterans’ Preference Act?
Who is a veteran is determined by statute.
- Does the Veterans’ Preference Act cover all positions?
No, the Veteran’s Preference Act does not cover every government position. Many senior positions and political appointments are not covered by the act. There may be cases where other positions are not covered.
- Can family members use Veterans’ Preference?
Under certain circumstances the spouse or the parent of a veteran may qualify for benefits under the Act.
- Do you need an honorable discharge to be eligible for veterans’ preference?
In general, only Veterans discharged or released from active duty in the armed forces under honorable conditions are eligible for Veterans’ Preference.
Frequently Asked Questions about Discharge Upgrades
- Who grants discharge upgrades and corrects military records?
This is done through the Discharge Review Board (DRB) and the Board for the Correction of Military/Naval Records (BCMR/BCNR)
- Is there a time limit to apply to change my records?
Requests to the DRB must be made within 15 years after discharge from service. Requests to the BCMR/BCNR must be made with 3 years of the discovery of the error or injustice. Requests to the BCMR/BCNR may be made after the 3 year limitation if the board finds it in the interest of justice to do so.
- How long does it take?
Due to the number of applications it can take as long as 12 months to receive notification of a decision on your request.
- What about automatic upgrades?
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN AUTOMATIC UPGRADE.
- Can I upgrade my discharge if I was discharged as the result of a general court martial?
It is possible for the BCMR to upgrade a discharge issued by a sentence of a general court-martial. But the BCMR cannot expunge your record of a court-martial conviction. You can attempt to get the court martial reversed or apply for a presidential pardon.
Requests may be made to the BCMR to request a discharge upgrade review.
- Who can apply for an upgrade?
Any person who has been discharged or dismissed, or his or her spouse, heirs or legal representative, may apply to the appropriate service’s DRB or BCMR.
- What kind of support or evidence do I need for a request?
Any military record document, witness statement, your written statement, correspondence or other documents that supports your opinion of error, injustice, or unfairness in your discharge.
- What is the PDBR?
The Physical Disability Board of Review provides reviews medical separations for fairness and accuracy.
- Who can use the PDBR?
“To be eligible for PDBR review, a service member must have been medically separated between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2009 with a combined disability rating of 20 percent or less, and not found eligible for retirement.”
- Do I have to hire a lawyer?
You do not have to hire a lawyer to complete this process. A lawyer can provide critical legal expertise to assist you this process