DD Form 149September 12, 2020
A DD Form 149, available at this link, is the form used by Veterans, or current Servicemembers, to apply for a correction to any military record. The form can be used to request a change to a Veteran/Servicemember's discharge characterization, narrative reason for separation, re-entry code, separation code, or any other military record. The following categories of corrections are specifically listed on the form: Administrative Correction, Pay and Allowance, Decoration/Awards, Performance/Evaluations/Derogatory Information, Disability, Promotions/Rank, and Discharge/Separation.
The Veteran/Servicemember has to exhaust all other appeals before using a DD Form 149. Furthermore, appeals must be made within 3 years of the date of discovery of any error; however, this 3 year requirement is not an absolute bar. If more than 3 years has passed, a Veteran/Servicemember needs to explain why it has taken so long to apply for the requested correction. As long as the reason is made in good faith, the Board generally still decides applications over the 3 year limit on their merits.
On the form, a Veteran/Servicemember can request either an in person hearing or a hearing via VTC/telephone. This is only a request and the board, in its discretion, can decide the application without any requested hearing.
There is a spot on the form for the Veteran/Servicemember to check if any of the following conditions are related to the request: PTSD, TBI, Other Mental Health, Sexual Assault/Harassment, DADT, Transgender, or Reprisal/Whistle blower. If a Veteran/Servicemember believes one of these conditions does apply to the request, he/she should be sure to check the appropriate box and attach supporting documentation. The boards are required to give applications related to these conditions special consideration.
There is a space on the form to write why the correction should be made. It is generally a good practice to write a brief summary followed by "see attached." The Veteran/Servicemember should provide a much more detailed explanation in a letter attached to the DD Form 149.
A Veteran/Servicemember can, and should, include supporting documents with the DD Form 149. At a minimum, a Veteran/Servicemember should include a letter explaining why they are requesting a correction and their complete military record (instructions on how to request one's military record can be found at this link). Sending only a DD Form 149, without any supporting documentation, has a lower likelihood of success. Other supporting documents can include medical records, letters of support, military documents not included in a Veteran/Servicemember's military record, etc.
After completely filling out the DD Form 149 and signing/dating it, the Veteran/Servicemember has to mail the form to the appropriate address. Each service (with the Navy and Marine Corps combined) has a different address to mail the form to. The correct address can be found on the form itself at the bottom of page 3.
Once the complete application is mailed off to the board, a Veteran/Servicemember should expect to wait between 12-18 months before a decision is made. The decision will be mailed to the Veteran and his/her lawyer, if applicable.
If an adverse decision is made, the Veteran can either submit a request for reconsideration (with new evidence) or consider filing a suit in federal court for an abuse of discretion. Before doing so, it is highly recommended that a Veteran consult with a lawyer who handles these types of cases.
Veterans/Servicemembers who are applying to any Board of Corrections for Military Records are best served by hiring a military lawyer to assist them. Not only will a lawyer put together a complete and well-written application, but he/she will able to review a Veteran/Servicemember's military record for any legal error.
This Article was written by Attorney Matthew Barry.