How Do I File a Military Appeal?

Marlene Garcia

A military appeal might seek reconsideration after a court martial, challenge disability decisions, relate to veterans' benefits, or aim to remove unfavorable remarks from a service member’s record. The military appeal process usually depends on the branch of the military, jurisdiction, and type of appeal being filed. Separate forms and deadlines typically apply to each type of appeal.

The requirements for filing a military appeal vary widely from nation to nation.
The requirements for filing a military appeal vary widely from nation to nation.

Service members convicted in military court for bad conduct might file a military appeal in the appellate court for the branch of the military where they serve. The typical process includes a review of military court decisions by a panel of military judges who can modify or approve the court’s decision. The convicted service member might first petition a clemency board before filing a military appeal.

Deadlines exist for filing proper paperwork.
Deadlines exist for filing proper paperwork.

If clemency is denied, an appeal can be filed with the military appellate court. In cases of dishonorable discharge or imprisonment for more than one year, the case automatically goes to the higher court. The military typically provides an attorney to represent the defendant. He or she might also hire private counsel at this stage of the military appeal process.

In the United States, appeals lost in military courts might be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court after petitioning for a review. A similar system exists in Canada, where a panel of three federal judges might review military decisions. In British law, a civil court of appeals retains jurisdiction over military court martial appeals.

Military discharges outside the court martial process might also be appealed. An administrative discharge for bad conduct might be reversed by appealing to special boards charged with reviewing documents and evidence. A service member typically presents witnesses and offers evidence to argue that the discharge unwarranted. An attorney might be permitted to appear on behalf of the person filing the military appeal.

An appeal process exists in some areas to protest negative comments in a military personnel record, including letters of reprimand. An evaluation board or similar authority commonly reviews the appeal and may correct or remove disparaging information. This process might be used by active-duty military members, retired veterans, or family members of deceased members.

Appeal boards also exist to challenge disputes on disability designation, compensation, and denial of veterans' benefits. A disability military appeal might be filed when an administrative decision determines the service member is unfit for service due to a disability. He or she might appeal the decision to a board empowered to change the outcome. Appeal boards might also exist to fight denial of veterans' benefits. As with most military appeals, deadlines exist for filing proper paperwork.

The U.S. Supreme Court has the option to hear appeals that were lost in military courts.
The U.S. Supreme Court has the option to hear appeals that were lost in military courts.

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