Can I change my Reentry Code?

Can I change my Reentry Code?

January 6, 2020

Whenever a Servicemember is discharged from the military, they are given a reentry code on their DD214. This is separate from their characterization of service (i.e. Honorable, General Under Honorable, Other than Honorable) and their narrative reason for separation (i.e. retirement, serious misconduct, pattern of misconduct, APFT failure, etc).

When a Servicemember applies for a discharge upgrade, it actually has no effect on the reentry code that they received. For example, let’s assume a Servicemember is separated for serious misconduct and received an other than honorable discharge. After some time has passed, she applies for a discharge upgrade. The Veteran wins the discharge upgrade and gets their discharge upgraded to an Honorable Discharge. The Veteran wants to rejoin the Service, and goes to her local recruiting office. The recruiter, however, tells the Veteran that while they have an Honorable discharge, their reentry code prevents them from rejoining. The Veteran is confused because she thought that was changed when she applied for a discharge upgrade. That is not the case.

A reentry code is almost always linked to the narrative reason for separation. It has nothing to do with the characterization of service (i.e. Honorable, General under Honorable, Other than Honorable).  A list of re-entry codes can be found at this link:

Some reentry codes prevent reenlistment completely. Some are waivable. Others allow reentry into the military. The best way for a Veteran to find out if their reentry code prevents them from reenlisting is to talk to their local recruiter. Whether a recruiter can waive certain reentry codes ebbs and flows with the current needs of the military.

If a Veteran discovers that their reentry code prevents them from reenlisting, they should apply to the appropriate board (i.e. Discharge Review Board, Boards of Correction for Military Records). Importantly, the Veteran should be sure to state in their application that they are specifically requesting that their narrative reason for separation and reentry code be changed.

Using the example above, the Veteran decides that she really does want to rejoin the Military.  She therefore applies to the Discharge Review Board to change her narrative reason for separation and her reentry code. She can’t just argue to the board that she was a good Soldier and just made a mistake. To get the narrative reason for separation changed, she has to convince the board that she should not have been separated for serious misconduct. Basically, she didn’t commit any serious misconduct. Without changing the narrative reason for separation (serious misconduct), this Veteran’s reentry code will likely not change. If the Veteran is successful convincing the board that she never should have been separated for serious misconduct, her narrative reason for separation will be changed and, automatically, her reentry code.

Additionally, it is possible for a Servicemember to be separated because of the end of their contract, but, end up with an RE Code of 3 or 4.  In these situations, the Servicemember's Command determined that he/she was ineligible for reenlistment when they left.  While this is uncommon, it can happen.  In these situations, it is almost always a good idea for the Servicemember to apply to the appropriate Discharge Review Board for an RE Code change.

If a Veteran finds themselves in a situation where they want to rejoin the Military after being separated for a reason other than a normal departure, he/she should consider hiring an experienced lawyer who practices in this area.   A Veteran’s chance for success greatly increases when they do so.

This article was written by Attorney Matthew Barry

Contact The Law Office of Matthew Barry today for a free consultation.