"In 2011, Cranford, on active duty in the Army, was charged with possessing and using Spice, an unregulated intoxicant, in violation of a lawful general order. Captain Lease recommended that Cranford be tried by general court-martial and forwarded the charges. Cranford requested to be discharged in lieu of trial by court-martial, acknowledging that the Uniform Code of Military Justice authorized the imposition of a bad conduct or dishonorable discharge for the charge. Cranford admitted guilt and acknowledged that he would qualify for an “other than honorable” (OTH) discharge, potentially barring him from receiving benefits. Cranford recddeived an OTH discharge. Cranford later requested VA benefits. The regional office denied that request, reasoning that Cranford’s discharge status barred him from receiving benefits. The Board of Veterans’ Appeals affirmed the denial, applying 38 C.F.R. 3.12(d)(1), to conclude that Cranford had been discharged under dishonorable conditions and was ineligible for benefits as a non-veteran under 38 U.S.C. 101(2).
The Veterans Court and Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the Board mischaracterized his discharge as being “in lieu of a general court-martial,” instead of a summary court-martial and that section 3.12(d)(1) did not apply to him because he had accepted an OTH discharge, not an “undesirable discharge.” An OTH discharge accepted in lieu of a general court-martial is equivalent to an undesirable discharge—despite the military service departments’ shift in terminology."
The summary is from Justia.com.
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