Lincoln’s Promise

Lincoln’s Promise


Your Support

We fight for Veterans with PTSD to get their discharge upgrades
OTHER THAN HONORABLE Discharges Since 2001

More than 500,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been given administrative “Other Than Honorable” discharges since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Unlike the two punitive discharges, Bad Conduct and Dishonorable, which can only be given after a court-martial conviction, administrative OTH discharges are given for minor infractions with little oversight. Yet administrative OTH discharges have lifetime consequences for employment, benefits, and more.

Veterans who are punished for life with administrative Other Than Honorable discharges are unsurprisingly destined for failure. Aside from lost benefits, an OTH discharge is a scarlet letter that impacts a person’s basic dignity. “OTHER THAN HONORABLE” is a stigma. Thousands of these veterans are no longer alive, like Vietnam Veteran Peter Roberts, who hung himself in 1978 after being denied his discharge upgrade twice, and Iraq Veteran Icarus Randolph, who was fatally shot by police on the Fourth of July, 2014. We have to do better for those who continue to struggle on their own.

There are five types of discharge. Our focus is on OTHER THAN HONORABLE discharges (previously “Undesirable” during Vietnam) which are given administratively with no oversight like Honorable and General discharges, but are extremely stigmatizing and cause significant difficulties for veterans who receive them. Bad Conduct and Dishonorable discharges are only given by courts-martial, and are virtually impossible to overturn.

Discharge Upgrades require petitioning administrative review boards within the U.S. Defense Department. The Army, Air Force and Navy each maintain their own Discharge Review (1553) and Records Correction (1552) boards. We guide Veterans through every step of the discharge upgrade process. We help them gather their military records, relevant medical records, letters from friends and family, and anything else needed to make their arguments to the correct board. Phone interviews and near-constant emails make veterans feel part of a team that cares about their wellbeing and success–because WE DO. We fight for veterans and win, and offer moral support every step of the way.

Types of Discharges

HONORABLE & GENERAL (Under Honorable Conditions)

Full veteran status and all benefits.


Administrative discharge given with no due process, but lifelong impact that is highly stigmatizing. Many civilians don’t know the difference between OTH and Dishonorable discharges. The primary mission of Lincoln’s Promise is to upgrade this category of administrative discharge.


Punitive discharges given by courts-martial trial after due process, with attorneys, judges and juries, and full evidentiary protections. Bad Conduct discharges and Dishonorable discharges are generally only given for the very worst criminal behavior, although BCDs have been abused for relatively minor misconduct. Only “Clemency” can be sought for punitive discharges.

Your generous support helps fund legal representation for veterans to make their best arguments to the following boards and obtain their discharge upgrade:

Discharge Review Boards

10 U.S.C. 1553

“Propriety” and “Equity”

Boards for Correction of Records

10 U.S.C. 1552

“Error and Injustice”

Discharge Appeal Review Board

10 U.S.C. 1553a


A patchwork of laws, regulations and DoD Directives govern the procedures of the Discharge Review Boards and Boards for Correction of Military/Naval Records. In 2014, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel issued a groundbreaking memo, now known as “the Hagel Memo,” which instructed review boards to apply LIBERAL CONSIDERATION or SPECIAL CONSIDERATION in their review of veterans with PTSD.

Read the Hagel Memo, Carson Memo, Kurta Memo and Wilkie Memo HERE.

Liberal Consideration will be given in petitions for changes in characterization of service when evidence may reasonably indicate that PTSD existed at the time of discharge which might have mitigated the misconduct that caused the under other than honorable characterization of service.

Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense