The Types and Impacts of an Army ADSEP

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You signed up to serve, but now your command is trying to administratively separate you. You have a lot on the line. The benefits you earned, from the G.I. Bill to disability compensation, may all depend on the type of Army administrative separation (ADSEP) you receive. At Military Justice Guides, we have helped countless clients deal with a potential military separation, and we're here to help you understand the types and impacts of an Army ADSEP.

Types of Army ADSEP

For enlisted members, Army administrative separations are governed by AR 635-200. The majority of Soldiers who are separated prior to the expiration of their term of service are separated under Chapter 9, Chapter 13, or Chapter 14 of that regulation. To explain further, a Soldier may be separated for:

  • Substance Use Disorder. A Soldier may face ADSEP when they suffer from a substance use disorder and further rehabilitation is either not practical or will not result in a fully mission-capable Soldier. According to Chapter 9 of AR 635-200, a "Substance Use Disorder" discharge may be based upon alcohol or other substance use (such as illegal, wrongful, or improper use of any controlled substance, alcohol, or another drug) when (1) the Soldier is enrolled in mandatory substance abuse treatment program; and (2) the commander determines that further rehabilitation efforts are either not practical, or will not result in a fully mission-capable Soldier. This determination will be made in consultation with the Soldier's rehabilitation team.
  • Unsatisfactory Performance. According to AR 635-200, Chapter 13, commanders may initiate separation for a Soldier for unsatisfactory performance when the three following conditions are met: (1) the Soldier’s performance has been unsatisfactory; (2) after sufficient counseling and rehabilitative efforts have been made, the Soldier’s performance continues to be unsatisfactory; and (3) the Soldier’s performance and potential indicate that they will not develop sufficiently to become a fully satisfactory Soldier.
  • Misconduct. The most common type of Army ADSEP is for misconduct, governed by AR 635-200, Chapter 14. Under this Chapter, Soldiers may be separated because of minor disciplinary infractions, a pattern of misconduct, a commission of a serious offense, conviction by civil authorities, desertion, and absence without leave.

The "type" of Army ADSEP will be reflected on your DD214 upon discharge. This is commonly referred to as your "Separation Code." Depending on the type of ADSEP you receive, you may be limited in your future plans. For instance, Soldiers separated for substance use disorder may be unable to re-enlist or serve in federal government positions.


Impacts of Army ADSEP

The immediate impacts of an Army ADSEP are obvious -- you lose your paycheck, your active duty benefits, and your career as a Soldier. But the future impacts almost always depend on the "characterization" of your service. How your service is characterized is different than the type of ADSEP you receive. Upon discharge, your service may be characterized in the following manners:

  • Honorable. An honorable discharge is a separation with honor. The honorable characterization is appropriate when the quality of the Soldier’s service generally has met the standards of acceptable conduct.
  • Under Honorable Conditions (General). A general discharge is a separation from the Army under honorable conditions. When authorized, it is issued to a Soldier whose military record is satisfactory but not sufficiently meritorious to warrant an honorable discharge.
  • Under Other Than Honorable Conditions (OTH). A discharge under other than honorable conditions is an administrative separation from the Service under conditions other than honorable. It may be issued for misconduct, fraudulent entry, security reasons, or in lieu of trial by court-martial in the following circumstances: (1) when the reason for separation is based upon a pattern of behavior that constitutes a significant departure from the conduct expected of Soldiers of the Army; or (2) when the reason for separation is based upon one or more acts or omissions that constitutes a significant departure from the conduct expected of Soldiers.

The "characterization" of your service determines how the Department of Veterans Affairs will provide you benefits. Although every case is different, the following rules generally apply:

  • If your service is characterized as Honorable, you are entitled to all VA benefits.
  • If your service is characterized as Under Honorable Conditions (General), you are not eligible for the GI Bill. However, you are likely to be eligible for all other VA benefits (disability compensation, hospital care, etc.).
  • If your service is characterized as Under Other Than Honorable Conditions (OTH), you are likely to lose all VA benefits, including the GI Bill, disability compensation, and medical care.

For more information about characterization of service and VA benefits, check out our FREE PAMPHLET - "Benefits by Discharge Characterization."

How to Rebut an Army ADSEP

If you are facing an Army ADSEP, our guides and products can help. If you are interested, please feel free to read more on our website or purchase an Army ADSEP Response Template below:

Military Justice Guides

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