You have been given notice by memorandum (called a notification memo) that you are required to “show cause” why you should not be administratively separated from the Army under the provisions of AR 600-8-24. This handout will answer some general questions about your administrative separation (also called a show cause action).
Your separation has been initiated by either the Department of the Army (DA generated) or by a General Officer Show Cause Authority (GOSCA) at your installation (locally generated). The separation action is based on substandard performance of duty, misconduct, moral and professional dereliction, the interests of national security or any combination of the above. Your notification memo will list the specific reasons why the show cause action was initiated.
Your notification memo also lists the options available to you to respond to this action. Normally, you have 30 calendar days to submit your response to the notification memo. The options available to you depend both on the basis for the proposed separation and on your status as an officer. These options are:
a) If you are a probationary officer (meaning you are a Reserve officer with less than 3 years of commissioned service, or a Regular Army officer with less than 5 years of commissioned service), and you are not being considered for an OTH discharge, you have the following options:
(1) You may submit a Resignation in Lieu of Elimination. A Resignation is a document you send to Department of the Army, through your command channels, telling them that you will agree to give up your right to a Board hearing if you are promised a better type of discharge (usually a General discharge). If the Separation Authority agrees, you get that better type of discharge. If your offer is turned down, you still have the right to a board (see below);
(2) If you are a Regular Army officer, you may submit a request for Discharge in Lieu of Elimination.
(3) You may submit a response to the notification memo. The only way you can fight this action (or at least have some input into what sort of discharge you receive) is to submit statements in your own behalf. These statements can be yours, or from people that you work for or work with. They should talk about your duty performance, potential for future service, and any significant past contributions. They can ask that you either be retained in the service or given an Honorable discharge. These statements should be submitted to your attorney, who will include them in your response to the show cause action. That response will then be sent to Department of the Army, for decision.
b) If you are a nonprobationary officer (meaning you are a Reserve officer with 3 or more years of commissioned service, or a Regular Army officer with 5 or more years of commissioned service), or you are being considered for an OTH discharge, you have an additional option, and that is to request to have your case heard before an administrative separation board, called a Board of Inquiry (board). This board would normally consist of three officers, all senior in rank to you. The board’s job is to decide whether you have committed the acts upon which the government alleges you should be separated, and then decide if those acts warrant separation. If they decide they do warrant separation, they also recommend what kind of discharge you should get. The board then makes a recommendation to the Department of the Army. The Department of the Army makes the final decision, but cannot do anything less favorable to you than the board recommended. At the board you have certain rights. You would have the right to be represented by a detailed military lawyer at no cost to you. You can also hire a civilian lawyer, at no cost to the government. If you are a minority officer, you could request that a minority member be part of your board. You could make a statement to the board, or chose to remain silent. If you are facing a board, it is critical that you get legal advice as soon as possible. In many cases, an aggressive defense at the board will make a huge difference in your case.
Should your case go to a board, Department of the Army must also review the case prior to taking final action. They will send your case to a Board of Review at DA which will review the case in its entirety. Unlike the original Board of Inquiry, you do not have the right to appear before the Board of Review.
Regardless of the option you select, Department of the Army makes the final decision on whether you should be separated and if so, what type of discharge you should receive. If separated, you could receive one of three types of discharges (depending on the reason for the show cause action): Honorable, General (Under Honorable Conditions), also called a General discharge, or a discharge Under Other Than Honorable Conditions, also called an “OTH.” An Honorable discharge is the best discharge you can receive from the service. A General discharge is the second best discharge that the Army gives, but it is also “good paper.” An OTH discharge will deprive you of most of the benefits you would receive with an Honorable discharge and may cause you substantial prejudice in civilian life. Generally, an OTH discharge is only possible for show cause actions based on misconduct and before you can be given an OTH, you have the right to have your case heard by an administrative separation board, called a Board of Inquiry.
If discharged with a General Discharge (Under Honorable Conditions) once out of the service you may petition the Army Discharge Review Board and the Army Board for Corrections of Military Records to upgrade your discharge. An upgrade is neither guaranteed nor automatic.
In any case, you also have the right to consult with an attorney to decide what option is best for you. You can always obtain copies of all documents that will be forwarded to the Separation Authority. You should now see an attorney who will answer questions that you may have about your rights. The attorney should also thoroughly review your discharge packet to ensure the Commander has satisfied all of the regulatory obligations. You and the Attorney will then fill out a form indicating what options you wish to exercise in this matter. If you will face a board of inquiry, it is important to start preparing now. If you have any questions about your rights, feel free to contact our office.