38 USC 5303 - Certain bars to benefits
Sec. 5303. Certain bars to benefits(a) The discharge or dismissal by reason of the sentence of a general court-martial of any person from the Armed Forces, or the discharge of any such person on the ground that such person was a conscientious objector who refused to perform military duty or refused to wear the uniform or otherwise to comply with lawful orders of competent military authority, or as a deserter, or on the basis of an absence without authority from active duty for a continuous period of at least one hundred and eighty days if such person was discharged under conditions other than honorable unless such person demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Secretary that there are compelling circumstances to warrant such prolonged unauthorized absence, or of an officer by the acceptance of such officer’s resignation for the good of the service, or (except as provided in subsection (c)) the discharge of any individual during a period of hostilities as an alien, shall bar all rights of such person under laws administered by the Secretary based upon the period of service from which discharged or dismissed, notwithstanding any action subsequent to the date of such discharge by a board established pursuant to section 1553 of title 10.
(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), if it is established to the satisfaction of the Secretary that, at the time of the commission of an offense leading to a person’s court-martial, discharge, or resignation, that person was insane, such person shall not be precluded from benefits under laws administered by the Secretary based upon the period of service from which such person was separated.
(c) Subsection (a) shall not apply to any alien whose service was honest and faithful, and who was not discharged on the individual’s own application or solicitation as an alien. No individual shall be considered as having been discharged on the individual’s own application or solicitation as an alien in the absence of affirmative evidence establishing that the individual was so discharged.
(d) This section shall not apply to any war-risk insurance, Government (converted) or National Service Life Insurance policy.
(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law,
(A) no benefits under laws administered by the Secretary shall be provided, as a result of a change in or new issuance of a discharge under section 1553 of title 10, except upon a case-by-case review by the board of review concerned, subject to review by the Secretary concerned, under such section, of all the evidence and factors in each case under published uniform standards (which shall be historically consistent with criteria for determining honorable service and shall not include any criterion for automatically granting or denying such change or issuance) and procedures generally applicable to all persons administratively discharged or released from active military, naval, or air service under other than honorable conditions; and
(B) any such person shall be afforded an opportunity to apply for such review under such section
1553 for a period of time terminating not less than one year after the date on which such uniform standards and procedures are promulgated and published.
(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law—
(A) no person discharged or released from active military, naval, or air service under other than honorable conditions who has been awarded a general or honorable discharge under revised standards for the review of discharges,
(i) as implemented by the President’s directive of January 19, 1977, initiating further action with respect to the President’s Proclamation 4313 of September 16, 1974,
(ii) as implemented on or after April 5, 1977, under the Department of Defense’s special discharge review program, or
(iii) as implemented subsequent to April 5, 1977, and not made applicable to all persons administratively discharged or released from active military, naval, or air service under other than honorable conditions, shall be entitled to benefits under laws administered by the Secretary except upon a determination, based on a case-by-case review, under standards (meeting the requirements of paragraph (1) of this subsection) applied by the board of review concerned under section 1553 of title 10, subject to review by the Secretary concerned, that such person would be awarded an upgraded discharge under such standards; and
(B) such determination shall be made by such board
(i) on an expedited basis after notification by the Department to the Secretary concerned that such person has received, is in receipt of, or has applied for such benefits or after a written request is made by such person or such determination,
(ii) on its own initiative before October 9, 1978, in any case where a general or honorable discharge has been awarded before October 9, 1977, under revised standards referred to in clause (A)(i), (ii), or (iii) of this paragraph, or
(iii) on its own initiative at the time a general or honorable discharge is so awarded in any case where a general or honorable discharge is awarded after October 8, 1977.
If such board makes a preliminary determination that such person would not have been awarded an upgraded discharge under standards meeting the requirements of paragraph (1) of this subsection, such person shall be entitled to an appearance before the board, as provided for in section 1553 (c) of title 10, prior to a final determination on such question and shall be given written notice by the board of such preliminary determination and of the right to such appearance. The Secretary shall, as soon as administratively feasible, notify the appropriate board of review of the receipt of benefits under laws administered by the Secretary, or of the application for such benefits, by any person awarded an upgraded discharge under revised standards referred to in clause (A)(i), (ii), or (iii) of this paragraph with respect to whom a favorable determination has not been made under this paragraph.
Last modified: July 21, 2011