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SLDN Toolkit Helps DADT Dischargees Fix Paperwork

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A gay servicemembers advocacy group is launching a new online toolkit that will help LGBT veterans change their discharge paperwork.Servicemembers Legal Defense Network announced its effort Thursday to assist troops discharged either under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ or the military’s prior ban on gay service.

SLDN Legal Director David McKean tells OutQ News that the Defense Department released guidance shortly after ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal that provides a pathway for changing one’s service documents. He says his group is now working to get “as much information as possible” from discharged servicemembers to help them apply for the necessary upgrades.

McKEAN: With the toolkit, we hope to streamline some of that process, and we hope to get the word out to everybody who could be eligible that if you have things on your discharge paperwork that you don’t like and you don’t want there anymore, it’s the case now that we can have that changed for you or apply to have that changed for you.

Among the changes are upgrading one’s discharge characterization from “less than honorable” to one more reflective of their service. Another includes allowing LGBT troops to update their “narrative reason for discharge.” McKean says for those dismissed under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” it would mean changing it from “homosexual act” to a more generic “secretarial authority.” And they can also try to replace their negative “re-entry code” with one that allows them to re-enlist.

Once servicemembers provide SLDN with the necessary paperwork to apply for these changes, the group will send the materials to the appropriate board for processing. So far, McKean says about a hundred applicants have utilized the new toolkit.

But McKean notes that changes to one’s paperwork are not guaranteed.


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