ADMINISTRATIVE SEPARATION BOARDS
Administrative Separation Boards in the hands of a fickle and unjust command structure exist to end your career when the evidence of wrongdoing is nonexistent. When the process begins, you have 60 days to prepare an aggressive defense and save your career.
How Fight For The Career And Benefits You’ve Earned
Administrative Separation Boards are perhaps the military’s method to end a career when all else fails. There is not enough to court martial you, so they send you to an administrative separation board. Commander didn’t like your attitude during the NJP process? Welcome to administrative separation. You had a GOMOR permanently filed, administrative separation is next. Think of it in terms of a civilian case, where you are accused of a crime and, because there is not enough evidence to convict you, they just make sure your boss fires you and tattoos a scarlet A right on your forehead. Administrative separation boards can serve a proper function when used as intended under the UCMJ. However, in the hands of unjust commands and overzealous JAGs, administrative separation becomes the tool of the vindictive leaving the accused with limited due process rights. Like any encounter with the military justice system, you have two options: be erased via a human resources data entry program or fight back. We specialize in option 2. Fight for your career. Fight for your retirement, and benefits, because if you go into an admin separation board unwilling or unprepared to fight, they will take everything from you just to set an example and get themselves a CYA.
What’s At Stake During An Administrative Separation Board
The administrative separation board process applies to all service branches and, though it goes by different names, there is a process to separate officers as well as enlisted. For officers, it is called a board of inquiry or show cause board. To be eligible for an administrative separation board, the service member must have six years of service or a recommendation for an Other Than Honorable characterization of service discharge. Remember, this typically happens after the command’s other attempts to “teach you a lesson” have failed. The administrative separation process equates to the “easy way” – the command’s path of least resistance to destroying you.
To fully understand what is at stake, we have to note the two categories of discharges.
- The first is administrative discharges which include honorable, general under honorable conditions, and other than honorable.
- The next category is punitive discharges. That includes the bad conduct discharge and the dreaded dishonorable discharge.
The important thing to consider is that, during the administrative separation process, you can only receive an administrative discharge. It is a common misconception, that you can receive a punitive discharge during an administrative separation board. You can’t.
Another way to look at it: maybe you’ve made some pretty bad decisions, and the evidence is damning. If we can get you to an administrative separation board instead of a court martial, that’s not a terrible outcome under the circumstances. We work extremely hard to get our clients out of trouble, but when your buddy posts a TikTok video of you snorting cocaine off the CG’s desk while wearing nothing but a reflective PT belt, an administrative separation might begin to look pretty good.
Don’t let that fool you into thinking that the outcome of an administrative separation can’t be costly. With an other than honorable discharge, you will lose the vast majority, if not all, of your military benefits. Even with a general under honorable conditions discharge, you can lose many benefits, which may include your right to the coveted GI Bill. If you have spent over a decade in the military and are halfway to some amazing benefits, it hurts. Keep in mind, if you had 18 years in the military and find yourself in front of an administrative separation board, they still won’t hesitate to take everything from you.
60 Days Will Determine Your Entire Military Career
The first step: your command will provide notice of its intent to administratively separate you. From here, you can elect one of three options. The first is that you can accept the decision and leave the military with the discharge that is recommended. If you are the Soldier snorting cocaine off the CG’s desk, and they offer you a general under honorable conditions, that’s likely only because you found the cocaine in the CG’s desk. You should probably just take the general discharge and run with it. In most cases, there is no reason to take the lowest discharge offered without a fight.
Your next option is to draft written matters to the commander requesting that you be retained or be separated with a higher characterization of service. If you select this option, you will not go before a board, and the commander will make the decision to separate or not and what type of discharge you get. In our observations, it is a losing option that rarely generates the desired outcome. In nearly every case we work, we suggest the service member elect to go before the board so long as he or she is eligible for one (six years of service or an OTH recommendation). This is where you make your stand, and this is where the fight for your career and benefits will take place. Once the members of the admin separation board are selected, a hard 60 day clock begins to tick.
There are no exceptions, and within 60 days, you are going to be standing tall before the board. The availability and schedule of your civilian defense attorney, if you have one, is not factored in. That’s why it is important to reach out to us as early in the process as possible. It is not like a court martial, where we can litigate for more time. If you reach out to us on day 59, then we have 24 hours and that is it. Practically speaking, we don’t take cases like that, because what we do and how we win is far too in-depth to be properly accomplished in such a short time frame. Moral of the story, if you are reading this because you were just notified of a pending separation, reach out to us today, not tomorrow.
Years of Experience
Court Martial Verdicts
Service Members Represented
The Administrative Separation Board Is a Street Fight
Once we are on the case, we treat the administrative separation board as if it were a full trial by court martial. We pour through the evidence, source witnesses, and prepare you to testify – to speak up on your own behalf. Though we prepare for it as if it were a trial, it is important to note that an admin separation board is more like a street fight. It just so happens that our trial strategy is to go in hooking and jabbing as well. However, it’s more like a street fight because the rules are few and far between.
The government will assign a JAG, who will be called a “recorder” instead of a “prosecutor.” Then, they’ll take the gloves off that “recorder” and tell him to do whatever it takes to get you separated with the worst possible discharge recommended. They do not need to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt here. They just need to establish that the preponderance of evidence suggests your guilt, meaning it is “more likely than not,” i.e., the 51% standard. The recorder will refer to this low standard often throughout the board while they present their case. Regarding the evidence and testimony they present, anything goes, to include absolute hearsay and speculation.
They can do just about whatever they want, but the silver lining is…so can we. That is why you want a street-smart defense attorney, audacious and skilled enough to fight back. It can be an absolute street brawl because the “recorder” is going to have to answer for why he or she lost. They won’t hesitate to play dirty. If you get to stay in the military, they have to answer to a command, which might have developed an emotional stake in your removal from the ranks. It is also why a JAG defender is not the best option. If the witness is the battalion or brigade commander, and your defense requires ripping his testimony to shreds in front of the panel of O-6s, they often won’t have the guts to do it.
You Have To Be Prepared To Speak For Yourself
Over the years, just about every single admin sep board we won involved the service member testifying and speaking up for his/herself. Far too many military defense counsel fancy themselves the hero, and they hang their client out to dry by keeping him or her on the sidelines. We know what it takes to win, and for us to win, you have to be willing to fight for your own career. An admin separation board composed of officers and senior enlisted is going to throw you out in a heartbeat if the members think you don’t have the guts to stand up and fight. The board itself respects and is looking for those who know how to fight.
As such, we prepare you to testify. We get you ready for cross examination and make sure the board knows you are willing to stand up and take accountability for your own career. Some attorneys try to get their client to do what’s called an unsworn statement. That’s a statement that isn’t under oath and you can’t be cross examined on. Doing an unsworn statement almost always fails. If the board has questions, they won’t get answers. If you make a statement to the board but can’t say it under oath, you look like a coward, or even worse…a liar. Get ready to get sent home packing.
When it comes to the administrative separation board, we get our clients ready to enter the street fight and fight for their own career. That’s what wins the day and often makes or breaks an entire case. We’ll show you how to hold up against cross examination, and, because we will have already shredded their own witnesses ourselves, you are primed to be the hero in your own story. We’re just the guide that shows you the way to fight for the career, retirement, and life that you deserve.
The Outcome You Want And Deserve
If the military really thought you were guilty and the crime warranted aggressive action, they would have punished you elsewhere. They couldn’t and so they are trying to get you where they can. Again, for them, it’s the “easy way,” that path of least resistance to end you. In an admin separation board, there are really two things they are deciding. First, they try to determine if there was a basis for misconduct. Basically, did you do it according to the 51% preponderance of evidence rule. Then, they will ask whether it warrants separation, and, if so, what kind of discharge should you get.
Victory looks a little different for everyone. For some, it is total exoneration – no basis, retain. For the Soldier on TikTok snorting cocaine off the CG’s desk, it’s preserving what benefits you can. Either way, your only option to avoid the worst possible outcome is to fight. Fight like hell. Let the separation board see how much you love serving your country and how hard you are willing to fight in order to keep doing so. You have to have a plan and you need to get started right now. That 60-day clock bends for no one, and every day lost is a day of preparation that you will never get back. If that clock is ticking for you, please reach out to us now and get us into the fight.