What Is an Administrative Discharge From the Marines?

Marines may leave the service honorably with an administrative discharge.
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Service in the Marine Corps ends with retirement or discharge. The regulations set out various types of military discharge, including three varieties of administrative discharge: "other than honorable," "general under honorable," and "honorable." There could be one or several reasons for this action, which may or may not leave a blemish on your military record. It all depends on the characterization of your discharge by the authorities.

Cause of Action

    The Marine Corps, and other branches of the military, may terminate the service of any member whose conduct, or physical or mental condition, demonstrates unfitness for service. The cause of this action may be a violation of regulations, failure to pass a drug or alcohol screen, dereliction of duty, disobeying orders or failure to meet physical fitness or weight requirements. A Marine may also be discharged for a personal or family hardship, or simply for the good of the service.

Other Than Honorable

    Of the three different characterizations for administrative discharge, "other than honorable" discharge is the most serious. An OTH means you lose the ordinary rights and benefits of military veterans, including eligibility for GI Bill benefits and Veterans Administration benefits, as well as pension benefits from the Marine Corps.

General Under Honorable

    In the middle range of administrative discharges is the "general under honorable" condition. When it places you in this category, the Marine Corps is claiming you have served with honor in general but have a negative mark on your service record. An example might be a pattern of absenteeism, or an incident involving drugs or alcohol.

Honorable Discharge

    If the Marine Corps grants an honorable discharge, you have met the basic service requirements. This is the characterization that will allow you to leave the Marines with full benefits, as well as a positive mark on your record that will encourage potential employers in civilian spheres such as law enforcement.

Due Process Hearing

    You have the right to contest an administrative discharge, and its characterization of your service, at a board hearing. You may be represented by an attorney and will have the opportunity to testify before a panel of three Marine officers, and produce evidence that the disqualifying condition or act should not apply in your case. The panel may uphold the decision or recommend the discharge be suspended for further action; or may change the characterization of your discharge.

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