Step 1: Which Board Do I Apply to?

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Step 1: Which Board Do I Apply to?

Each military branch has its own DRB and BCMR. There are four DRBs and four BCMRs: one each for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Marine Corps veterans apply to the Navy boards. The DRB and the BCMR have different rules for eligiblity and they can do slightly different things. Your application will be different depending on which Board you're applying to.

First, you need to figure out which Board you're applying to. There are two Boards:

Which Board Do I Apply to?

If your discharge was both:

  • less than 15 years ago, and
  • you were not discharged by a general court martial

Then you must apply to the DRB first before you can apply to the BCMR. The exception is if you are asking for something the DRB cannot do. See "Limitations" in the "More About the Discharge Review Boards" table below. If you are applying to the BCMR first, you must clearly explain why the DRB is unable to help.

    If your discharge was:

    • more than 15 years ago, or
    • you were discharged by general court martial

    Then you should apply to the BCMR

    What if I Already Applied and Was Denied?

    In most cases, if you have already applied to a DRB and they made a decision on your application, you must then apply to the BCMR. However, under special circumstances you should apply to a DRB again even if you have been denied previously. According to 32 C.F.R. § 70.8(8), a DRB may reconsider your application if:

    • The DRB did not rule on the merits of your actual case (they ruled only on some aspect of the process only or some technicality)
    • If you are requesting a hearing and did not previously do so
    • If changes in the discharge policy are made after the DRB decision and are expressly retroactive (meaning they apply to discharges that occurred before the policy was passed)
    • Current discharge policies and procedures are substantially more favorable today than they were when you were discharged. If you did not previously have representation by a lawyer or other representative but do now, you should ask for help identifying changes in policy.
    • If you now have new, substantial, and relevant evidence that was not available to the applicant at the time of original review by the DRB.

    You should reapply if your application was denied by a DRB or BCMR before September 3, 2014 and you claimed in your application that you had PTSD from your service. DRBs and BCMRs are now required to to review your application again as though you were applying for the first time.