Administrative Separation Boards - Administrative Seperations

Administrative Separation Boards and Notification

Administrative Separations, whether by a Board or Notification (paperwork only), is how the military fires its service members.  These involuntary administrative separations require due process, but they are far less onerous than a court-martial, and the rules of evidence and other procedural safeguards do not exist.  Often referred to as the “wild west,” administration separations offer commanders a means by which to terminate “subpar” troops from their ranks.

A service member is entitled to an Administrative Separation Board if they have more than six (6) years in the service, or if the Command is seeking to separate the service member with an Other Than Honorable Discharge Characterization.

In administrative separation board proceedings, the board must answer three questions:  1) Did the Respondent (servicemember facing administrative separation) engage in the alleged conduct or misconduct?  2) If so, does the conduct or misconduct warrant separation from the military?  3) If so, what is the appropriate characterization of service for the Respondent based on the conduct or misconduct?

The characterization of service in an administrative separation can be one of three characterizations:  1) Honorable, 2) General Under Honorable Conditions, and 3) Other Than Honorable Conditions.

An Other Than Honorable Discharge Characterization

When a Respondent or servicemember is administratively separated with Other Than Honorable Conditions, they will face significant negative consequences.  In addition to losing their job and income, the service member can expect a litany of hardships associated with an Other Than Honorable Discharge.

One of the most significant consequences of an Other Than Honorable Discharge is the loss of benefits that are typically afforded to those who receive honorable discharges. For example, service members with OTHs are not eligible for Montgomery GI Bill or Post-911 GI Bill benefits, which provide financial assistance for education, training, and housing.  Additionally, they may be disqualified from receiving other forms of veterans’ benefits, such as VA healthcare, disability compensation, and life insurance.

Other negative consequences from an Other Than Honorable Discharge include loss of career opportunities, social and emotional consequences, negative mental health outcomes, financial difficulty and homelessness, and loss of community and sense of belonging.

Common Basis for Involuntary Administrative Separation and Officer Elimination Include:

  • Convenience of the Government;
  • Alcohol or Substance Abuse (Rehabilitation Failure);
  • Entry-level Performance and Conduct;
  • Unsatisfactory Performance (Poor Duty Performance);
  • Conviction by a Civilian Court;
  • Acts of Serious Misconduct (if a Punitive Discharge is Authorized by a Court-Martial);
  • Patterns of Minor Misconduct;
  • Wrongful Use of Illegal or Prescription Drugs;
  • Moral or Professional Failure;
  • Failure to Pass the Physical Fitness Standards;
  • Failure to Meet Height/Weight or Body Fat Composition Standards.

What is an Administrative Separation Board?

An Administrative Separation Board is a Board consisting of three (3) Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers (if enlisted).  Each member of the Board must outrank the Respondent, or the service member facing administrative separation.  The Board is usually appointed by the Special Court-Martial Convening Authority (Brigade or Regimental Commander) or the General Court-Martial Convening Authority (Division-level Commander).

The format of an Administrative Separation Board is that the Board is Convened, and then the Government notifies the Respondent that their case has been referred to the Board for consideration of separation.  The Government then notifies the Respondent of the basis for the administrative separation and provides notice of the evidence and witnesses upon which the Government will rely to request separation of the Respondent from the Administrative Separation Board.

The actual Administrative Separation Board proceeding is an adversarial hearing wherein the service member Respondent is presented the evidence including documents and witnesses used by the Government to seek separation.  The service member is afforded the right to challenge the Board members for bias and lack of impartiality after questioning by military defense counsel.

During the administrative separation board hearing, the Respondent service member is guaranteed several rights including, among others, the right to be present, the right to military defense counsel, the right to hire a civilian military defense counsel, notice of the evidence and witness relied upon by the Government, the right to cross-examine Government witnesses, the right to present evidence and witnesses on their own behalf, the right to have the Government produce necessary witnesses for the Board Hearing, the right to testify either in sworn or unsworn testimony, and the right to refute the Government and present your case in defense.  The military defense lawyers at the Law Office of Will M. Helixon have over 30 years of experience, both prosecuting Administrative Separation Boards, and defending clients at Boards, both as an Active Duty JAG Officer and as a civilian military defense lawyer.  If you are facing an Administrative Separation Board, you should demand the best and engage the services of the Law Office of Will M. Helixon to represent you before and during these Board proceedings.  The military lawyers at the Law Office of Will M. Helixon are local to Germany and are particularly well-suited to defending your Board Hearing throughout Germany and in other locations in Europe.

What Happens After the Board Recommends Separation?

After the Administrative Board closes, the Board Members in closed deliberations discuss the case, and make their findings.  These findings are then announced to the service member after the Board re-opens its proceedings to announce its findings.

In the unfortunate event the Board finds the service member engaged in the conduct or misconduct, and separation is warranted, they then forward these recommendations to the appointing authority and approval authority, usually the referring Commander.  The approval authority cannot enact findings that are less favorable than the recommendation of the Board.  For example, if the Board recommends separating the service member with a General under Honorable Condition Discharge, the appointing authority Commander is prohibited from separating the service member with an Other Than Honorable Discharge.

After the Board findings and its recommendation to the approval authority Commander, the service member is authorized to present additional matters to the Commander before final action is taken.  Based on matters submitted by the military defense lawyer, the approval authority Commander can take final action less severe than the recommendation of the Board regarding both the Characterization of Service and the ultimate decision to separate the service member.

These matters submitted to the approval authority Commander is the last opportunity for the service member to influence the Commander to take positive action on behalf of the service member.  The two steps in the administrative separation board procedures where hiring a civilian military lawyer would be beneficial to the service member is for 1) representation before and during the Administrative Separation Board, and 2) submitting matters to the appointing authority Commander before final action is taken based on the Administrative Separation Board recommendations.

The matters that are submitted to the approval authority Commander should include a list of procedural and substantive errors occurring before and during the Board Hearing, additional character recommendations not presented to the Board, additional extenuation and mitigation matters for consideration, and justifications why the service member should be retained in the military.

Why Hire the Law Office of Will M. Helixon for your Separation Board?

The military defense lawyers at the Law Office of Will M. Helixon, including both Will M. Helixon and John Caulwell have vast experience with Administrative Separation Boards.  Both Will and John are retired U.S. Army Judge Advocate Lieutenant Colonels who have held military justice positions requiring the prosecution, defense, and advising members of Administrative Separation Boards.  Will has served as a Trial Counsel and Senior Trial Counsel prosecuting Administrative Separation Boards, and as a Senior Defense Counsel and Chief of the Defense Counsel Assistance Program, defending and providing training and assistance to military counsel defending Administrative Separation Boards.  John has served as a Trial Counsel, Defense Counsel and Chief of Justice, both prosecuting and defending Boards, and advising the prosecutors in Germany who regularly sought discharges of service members through Administrative Separation Boards.  Since 2016, Will has been defending service members facing Boards as a civilian military defense counsel with the Law Office of Will M. Helixon.  Since both Will and John live in Germany, they should be your natural choice for defending you at your Administrative Separation Board in Germany and Europe.

It is their commitment to excellence, advocacy, and exercising the rights of service members that the military lawyers at the Law Office of Will M. Helixon will bring to your Administrative Separation Board proceeding.  The skills honed on Active Duty, in the Reserves, and as civilian military defense lawyers with the Law Office of Will M. Helixon, will serve you well in your Administrative Separation Board in Germany and Europe.

If you want experienced, dedicated, and knowledgeable military defense lawyers to represent you at your Administrative Separation Board in Germany and Europe, you should go no further than to hire the Law Offices of Will M. Helixon for immediate representation.

If you are referred for administrative separation, whether by Board or Notification Proceedings, contact the Law Office of Will M. Helixon by calling today at (913) 353-6466 from the U.S. or WhatsApp, or +49 (0) 9662-293-8047 in Germany or Europe to schedule a free consultation.  We stand ready to defend you at your Administrative Separation Board and give you the best chance of being retained in the U.S. military

Your Warrior Law TeamTM – The Law Office of Will M. Helixon – Your Warrior AdvocatesTM

The Law Office of Will M. Helixon, your Warrior Law TeamTM, with over a century of combined legal experience, has served as Warrior AdvocatesTM in multiple complex and high-profile military cases.  Founded in 2015, and rebranded and relaunched on October 14, 2023, the Warrior AdvocatesTM of the firm represent Warrior ClientsTM in most military law cases, including military justice matters, adverse administrative actions, complex legal assistance issues, affirmative administrative actions, and fundamental military employment problems.

Our Warrior AdvocatesTM defend Warrior ClientsTM in military justice matters including courts-martial ranging from premeditated murder to rape and sexual assault, from BAH fraud to DUI and drug offense, and military offenses from maltreatment of subordinates and sexual harassment to violating lawful orders and insubordination. Our Warrior AdvocatesTM also represent Warrior ClientsTM pending law enforcement investigations, at administrative boards and non-judicial punishment hearings, and in involuntary separations and “chapter” actions alleging misconduct.

Experts in rebutting adverse administrative actions, our Warrior AdvocatesTM represent Warrior ClientsTM facing command-directed investigations and AR 15-6 investigations, responding to adverse findings of investigations and AAIP filings, and answering notices seeking to revoke security clearances and professional de-credentialing.

Pending the need for legal advice for complex legal assistance questions, Warrior ClientsTM routinely rely on our Warrior AdvocatesTM in responding to GOMORs, letters of reprimand, and referred, relief for cause, and negative performance evaluations (NCOERs and OERs), assisting with medical issues such as MEBs and PEBs, navigating centralized board actions such as applications to the service component Board of Correction of Military Records (BCMRs) and Discharge Review Boards, and answering QMP Boards, the DASEB, the AGDRB, SSRBs, and other service-specific boards.

When our Warrior ClientsTM suffer wrongs by their command or fellow service members, our Warrior AdvocatesTM advise and assist submitting Inspector General (IG) complaints, Equal Opportunity (EO) complaints, and Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) grievances and filing complaints and claims under Article 138 UCMJ (remedying command wrongs) and Article 139 UCMJ (compensation for wrongful taking/damage to personal property).

Our Warrior AdvocatesTM also assist Warrior ClientsTM with basic military employment issues including responding to notices of suspensions and terminations and submitting initial applications with the EEOC and MSPB.

Call our Warrior AdvocatesTM at the Law Office of Will M. Helixon, your Warrior Law TeamTM, today to help with your legal issues in Germany, Poland, and the United States.  All our Warrior AdvocatesTM maintain licenses to practice before all military trial courts.Our Warrior AdvocatesTM also assist Warrior ClientsTM with basic military employment issues including responding to notices of suspensions and terminations and submitting initial applications with the EEOC and MSPB.


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