Administrative Separations for Enlisted Navy Staff
The Marine Corps order 1900.16 contains the Separation and Retirement Manual,
which outlines the procedure, regulations and policies governing the administrative
separation of enlisted members of the United States Navy. Administrative
separations are not punitive discharges and they are based on the quality
of service that has been demonstrated by the enlisted member of the Navy.
When is separation considered?
When there is strong evidence to suggest that a Navy man cannot conform
to the discipline, conduct or performance standards expected in the Navy,
or that he does not do so for some reason, this could be a strong reason
to consider separation. Apart from this, separations may be considered
when the Navy man's ability to carry out his duties does not justify
the cost of the resources that have been invested in him in terms of training
and equipment. Fraudulent or erroneous enlistment parenthood, debilitating
mental/ physical conditions, misconduct or poor performance may be the
reason for separation of enlisted personnel in the Navy.
Separation process with board action starts with a written notice being
sent to the respondent telling him about the process being initiated against
him. The notice should contain:
- Basis for considering the separation process
- Possible service characterization and its effects on re-enlistment
- Impact on veterans benefits (copy of Appendix D is to be given to the respondent)
- Impact on civilian employment prospects
The separation should be completed within 50 working days of the respondent's
receipt of the notice. If the matter is being sent to the Secretary of
the Navy, it must be forwarded to him within 55 days of the receipt of
notice by the respondent.
The respondent has a two-day time period to respond after he receives the
notice. His response is reviewed by the commanding officer who then decides
whether or not to proceed with the discharge process. Apart from mandatory
separation, in all other cases, reasonable efforts at rehabilitation have
to be made before the proceedings are taken any further.
When rehabilitation efforts have failed, the commanding officer initiates
the separation proceedings after due notice to the respondent. The enlisted
member has a right to get copies of all the documents that will be forwarded
to the separation authority. He has a right to hire military counsel to
represent him or represent himself during the hearing. An enlisted member
with 6 or more years of service can request an administrative board for
the hearing. Non military counsel may also be hired by the respondent
at his own cost. Apart from these rights the respondent also has the right
to call upon witnesses to substantiate his statements and he can question
all the witnesses who are called during the proceedings.
Separation board processing
The command officer makes his own recommendation when he forwards the relevant
documents to the separation authority and this recommendation bears weight.
His recommendation covers discharge or retention of the enlisted member
and the service characterization. The Marine officer holding the general
court martial convening authority (GCMCA) is the separation authority.
Unless the enlisted member waives his right to a Board, the separation
authority convenes one to determine whether or not the respondent should
The separation authority should ensure that at least three warrant, commissioned
or non- commissioned officers form part of the board. The majority of
the officer on the board must be drawn from the ranks of commissioned
or warrant officers. The voting member must belong to a cadre that is
above that of the respondent.
The board determines if the evidence presented substantially indicates
that the allegations outlined in the separation notice are justified.
After due assessment of all facts, the board members make a recommendation
regarding separation and a recommendation for service characterization.
Characterization of service for separation
The characterization of service for purpose of separation plays a critical
role in determining what benefits the respondent enjoys post separation.
The following characterizations are possible:
Honorable discharge- Highest quality of characterization, denotes that
the respondent's performance has matched Navy standards
General discharge (under honorable conditions)- Second highest characterization
which indicates that some negative aspects in the enlisted member's
performance/ conduct overwhelm the positive ones in his record.
Discharge under other than honorable conditions- Least favorable characterization
which indicates that the enlisted member's act/ acts significantly
depart from the Navy's rules of conduct.
Characterization is recognition of how well the enlisted member has performed
his duties. When the separation is characterized by a honorable discharge,
the respondent not just enjoys all veteran benefits but also finds it
easy to find employment post Navy life. To ensure that fair characterization
is done and the enlisted member can enjoy all the benefits he deserves,
it is imperative to hire an experienced counsel to safeguard his rights.
Joseph Jordan, expert military lawyer has won honorable discharges for
many clients at U.S. Navy establishments across the country and abroad.