Being dishonorably discharged from any branch of the armed forces is the rough equivalent of being convicted of a felony in civilian courts. A dishonorable discharge can be handed down only by the decision of a military court martial process, and even then only for serious infractions or reprehensible actions such as sexual assault, desertion or murder. Typically, these types of infractions result in additional sentencing–such as jail time or similar punishments–being meted out alongside the dishonorable discharge. A soldier who has been dishonorably discharged will also face a large variety of additional consequences once he returns to civilian life.
Loss of Military Benefits
A soldier who has been dishonorably discharged from the military forfeits his right to any benefits he might have had access to upon his return to civilian life. This can include the loss of medical insurance, GI bills and college pay. In addition, the soldier loses the right to the status of “veteran” in accordance with United States Code, which defines a veteran as any member of the active armed forces who has not been given a dishonorable discharge. This also prevents the dischargee from gaining any nonmilitary veterans benefits, such as preferential consideration on university entrance exams and job applications. Any form of government aid is withheld from a soldier who was dishonorably discharged.
Loss of Certain Freedoms
In addition to losing his veterans benefits, the dishonorable dischargee will be unable to apply for unemployment benefits upon entering into civilian life. More than likely the dischargee will also lose the ability to apply for bank loans and will be barred from serving in any level of government service–especially those of the armed forces. If the soldier was discharged because of a felony conviction, he also loses the right to vote and the ability to hold public office, and will be unable to sit on a jury for an extended period of time. The dischargee is also barred from purchasing or owning any sort of firearm under Title 18 of the United States Code.
Dishonorable discharges are rarely meted out as stand-alone punishments. Because the soldier must do something truly reprehensible in the eyes of the military before she is considered for a dishonorable discharge, additional punishments will usually accompany the discharge. These consequences are many and varied, and are decided by the presiding officer at the general court-martial once the guilt of the soldier has been determined–the proceedings essentially mirror those of civilian courts, only all the participants are active military personnel.
Because a soldier who has been dishonorably discharged is essentially a convicted felon, he faces the same difficulties that a felon might in his daily life. Finding a job will be difficult, any relationships he had will suffer, and possibly his own psyche will be greatly damaged by the event. Beyond what has been listed in the preceding sections, there can be any number of consequences unique to each individual. Suffice it to say that a dishonorable discharge is not something to be taken lightly and will affect nearly every facet of a soldier’s life.
The Consequences of a Dishonorable Discharge in the Military | eHow.com.