Pro Bono Veteran Client Secures Discharge Upgrade

January 24, 2020

Cleary Gottlieb successfully represented Mr. S, a Marine Corps veteran, in an application for a discharge upgrade from the Naval Discharge Review Board.

Mr. S, who received multiple accolades culminating with promotion to staff sergeant in six years of service, received an “Other Than Honorable Discharge” for misconduct in 2017 as well as 100% rated disability status by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for a number of service-connected conditions, including bipolar-type schizoaffective disorder; severe stimulant use disorder, amphetamine-type substance; depression; anxiety; ADHD; adjustment disorder; and HIV-positive status. Mr. S was also the victim of repeated harassment and discrimination based on his sexual orientation and HIV-positive status.

In early 2019, Cleary represented Mr. S by obtaining critical case records and other evidence, and drafting and submitting a brief to the Naval Discharge Review Board, arguing that the discharge was inequitable due to the circumstances that led to the misconduct and additionally, that significant meritorious aspects in the record outweighed the misconduct. On January 24, 2020, Mr. S received notice from the president of the Naval Discharge Review Board that his discharge characterization is being upgraded to “General (Under Honorable Conditions).” Veterans who receive this classification are entitled to all VA benefits except GI Bill education benefits.

Mr. S was referred to the firm and also assisted throughout by the Veterans Consortium, a D.C.-based pro bono project providing legal representation and assistance to veterans in need.