What Is an Uncharacterized Discharge?

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An uncharacterized discharge from the military is an entry level separation issued when the enlisted person has fewer than 180 days of service. The discharge is considered neither good nor bad, because not enough time has passed to evaluate the person’s conduct and performance.

If enough information is available, the commander may choose to issue an honorable discharge instead of an ELS. In cases of misconduct or failure to meet and maintain standards, the commander can issue a general or “under other than honorable conditions” discharge. Bad conduct or dishonorable discharges are issued only after a court martial. Someone with an ELS discharge hasn’t been in the military long enough to qualify for most veterans’ benefits.