Administrative Separation

Civillian military attorney Cheryl Van Ackeren is passionate about protecting the rights of service members and ensuring they get the benefits they deserve. If you are facing an administrative separation, contact Mrs. Van Ackeren at 253 442-6700 today for a one-hour initial consultation!


Administrative separations are viewed as less severe than courts-martial by the military. Because of that viewpoint, you’re appointed representation will be the junior most members of the JAG corps. You need experienced representation to defend your rights during an administrative separation, despite the military’s view, there are long-term consequences for your career both in and out of the armed services.

The military uses administrative separations to handle situations such as minor misconduct, medical discharges, fraudulent entry into military service, and unsatisfactory performance. Sometimes referred to as involuntary discharge, a commander cannot typically begin proceedings without making reasonable disciplinary and retraining efforts to rehabilitate the service member. The initial step in the discharge process requires first notifying the service member of pending proceedings.

Notification Processing

Notification processing is used where the service member has less than six years of service and the least favorable characterization of service they can receive is “General Under Honorable Conditions”. The notification process is limited to a written process wherein the command notifies the service member of their intent to discharge the member and the reasons for discharge. After receiving notification, the service member can meet with an attorney, write a statement and submit evidence on his behalf if he or she believes that discharges is not warranted in their case.

Board Processing

Board processing is used in all other instances. A service member is entitled to appear before the board if the military is seeking the Other-than-Honorable discharge, the service member is an officer, the service members’ length of time in service is greater than six years, and if the reason is a matter of national security. The board consists of three officers, a legal advisor, and a recorder. Unlike a court-martial, a board processing has no formal rules of evidence and decides the facts by the preponderance of the evidence. The preponderance of evidence means the offense more than likely occurred. During the hearing, the service member can have the counsel represent him, bring witnesses, question witnesses brought against him, and challenge a member of the board.


At the conclusion of both the processes, the board makes several decisions including whether alleged misconduct has occurred. If misconduct is found to have occurred, a recommendation is made concerning whether separation is warranted, and if separation is warranted, then the type of characterization of service as either Honorable, General, or Other-than-Honorable. If the board recommends an Other-than-Honorable characterization, a judge advocate will review the proceedings. The board’s recommendations are forwarded to the service member’s chain of command.

Contrary to popular belief, the service member’s discharge will not automatically upgrade six months after your administrative separation.

Service members are entitled to representation before an administrative board by an appointed military attorney at no charge. Unlike a court-martial, military members do not have a right to request representation by a specific military attorney. Military attorneys assigned to represent service members at administrative boards are typically the most junior attorneys in the office. In turn, these officers give these cases the least amount of their time and attention. This is because separation boards are seen as less important than courts-martial, as military rules of evidence do not apply, and the board cannot award confinement or a punitive discharge.

An Administrative Discharge Has Serious Long-Term Consequences

This approach is unfortunate, because separation boards have lifelong consequences every bit as serious as a court-martial conviction. Not only will you lose your job, but an Other than Honorable Discharge deprives a service member of almost all veterans’ benefits, including your G.I. Bill, VA loan, eligibility for student loans and other government programs. It will also make it extremely difficult for you to obtain employment in the future. In fact, one study found that employers were less likely to hire a service member who had “Other-than-Honorable Discharge” than they were a service member with a court-martial conviction and Bad Conduct Discharge. For senior military members, an administrative discharge represents not only these losses, but also the loss of the retirement that you have spent your entire military career earning.

If you are facing an administrative separation board, you need an administrative separation attorney who is willing to fight for you to stay in or receive an Honorable discharge. Many JAG attorneys see an administrative separation board as a losing battle. They advise their clients that they cannot win or fighting is not the best option. These attorneys are not willing to fight for the service member. Attorney Cheryl Van Ackeren is passionate about fighting for service members. As a former service member, Cheryl understands how the military can quickly turn its back and continue to kick a service member until they feel like just giving in. She knows how to approach the cases to the board members so that the best possible case is put before them. Don’t leave your military career to chance, call administrative separation lawyer Cheryl Van Ackeren now!

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Administrative Separation Lawyer for Worldwide Representation

Van Ackeren, P.S. represents clients in Administrative Separations nationwide and worldwide for all branches of the military, whether you’re a soldier, airmen, sailor, or coastie. We stand ready to defend you before the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard at any location such as Fort Bragg, Camp LeJune, Schofield Barracks, Fort Drum, Fort Stewart, Fort Hood, Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Ft. Campbell, Fort Benning, Ft Bliss, Camp Pendleton, Norfolk Naval Station, Fort Sam Houston, Iraq, Quantico, Japan, Germany, Afghanistan, or South Korea; whether you live in New York, Hawaii, Washington, D.C., Boston, San Diego, Miami, Los Angeles, Dallas, Alaska, Seattle, St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Columbus, Denver or anywhere else.

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