general discharge
General Military Questions

General Discharge

A discharge from any military branch is the moment a service member is released from their obligation to serve.

There are different types of discharges from the military, and a general discharge is one of the types.

1. What is a General Discharge?

Types of military discharge

A general discharge is an administrative discharge for those who served with faith but ran into some difficulties.

Typically, this discharge comes after nonpunitive corrections were not successful in changing behaviors that get in the way of meeting military expectations.

Essentially, the service member performed adequately but is not a good long-term fit to be a member of the armed forces.

Related Article8 Types of Military Discharge

2. General Discharge vs. Honorable Discharge

An honorable discharge is the highest level of discharge a service member can receive. It means the expected duties were well-performed, and the member was faithful to their assigned duties.

A general discharge is considered an administrative discharge.

Each branch of the military has different administrative reasons for this particular discharge.

When a service member receives their separation paperwork, the reasons are typically specific and stated on the paperwork.

Also, a service member’s DD Form 214 will report the discharge with the reasons.

Lastly, there are a couple of different versions of this discharge, including a ‘General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions’ and a ‘General Discharge Other than Honorable Conditions.’

3. What is A General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions?

A General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions means you met all the expectations of their service.

However, there might be some issues with minor disciplinary actions.

Also, there is likely a failure to meet some standards.

In general, this type of discharge shows satisfactory service.

4. What is an Other Than Honorable Discharge?

a court martial could lead to a discharge

An Other Than Honorable Discharge is not as favorable.

Typically, this type of discharge means you struggled to meet expectations for conduct and performance and show a pattern of behavior that is not in line with a service member’s expectations.

Generally, this administrative discharge is due to the following problems:

  • Abuse of power
  • Serious issues with conduct
  • Court-martial conviction without punishment
  • A pattern of continued abuse of power or misconduct
  • Fraternization

Related ArticleHonorable Discharge: 8 Things You Might Not Know

5. Why Would Someone Get a General Discharge?

Several issues lead to this administrative Discharge.

In some cases, the discharge is due to not maintaining expectations in the following areas:

  • Dress and appearance
  • Fitness and weight
  • Success in completion of training
  • Minor issues with discipline

6. General Discharge Benefits

To receive VA benefits, the character of your discharge matters.

If you have a general discharge, you qualify for several benefits.

VA Compensation benefits include disability, dependency and indemnity compensation, and special monthly compensation.

Also, those with this type of discharge qualify for a pension, home loan, and insurance benefits.

Although, if you want education benefits, you must have an honorable discharge.

7. General Discharge Downsides

As with many other types  of discharges, there are disadvantages to a general.

Often, those who do not understand the discharge criteria may not understand a General Discharge is something else entirely from a Dishonorable Discharge. Even though this perception is false, it is hard to overcome the stigma.

Also, you are disqualified from Education benefits through the VA.

Related ArticleOther Than Honorable (OTH) Discharge Explained

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

We answered some of the most asked questions revolving around a General Discharge.

8. Can You Get a Job with a General Discharge?

You can seek employment as a civilian in the private sector.

Also, you may apply for a Federal Civil Service job, as well. Because the job application is based on points, your discharge earns you ten points for job considerations.

9. Can a General Discharge Be Upgraded to Honorable?

There are options for changing the discharge.

You may consider the Discharge Review Board if you feel your discharge was not proper or equitable under the law.

For instance, a veteran might suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the disorder is the reason for the behaviors that caused the discharge in the first place.  

When you apply for reconsideration, you need to prepare your explanation and statements from others you served in the military and current character references.

You will also need records of your educational background and proof you are in good standing financially and in your conduct as a civilian.

10. Can You Rejoin the Military with a General Discharge?

Yes, if you have a general discharge, you may reenlist.

Although, if your discharge includes details regarding a pattern of minor discipline problems, you may have to explain.

Related ArticleGM Military Discount


The moment a service member separates from the military is the time of discharge.

The circumstances leading up to the separation determines the type of discharge.

A general discharge is administrative in nature and reserved for those who serve with good faith and intentions.

However, those members may not meet the requirements and expectations of their branch of the military.

Therefore, they earn a general.

If you receive this type of discharge, you receive nearly all the same benefits as someone with an honorable discharge, with the exception of VA Educational benefits.

However, there if there are mitigating reasons that explain the behaviors that prompted the discharge, you can submit an appeal to a board for reconsideration.


See Also: 

Bad Conduct Discharge Explained

Rob V.
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A General Discharge is given to a servicemember if they served honorably, but had a few issues. Learn more about how bad a general discharge is here.

Originally posted on 10/11/20

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