Originally published as "Veterans' Discharge Paperwork: LGBT Veterans Say Change Is Needed," California Research Bureau, March 14, 2019.
When members of the Armed Forces leave active duty, the U.S. Department of Defense issues them both a short and long version of the DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. The short form includes name, gender, service records, awards, medals, assignments, specialties, and education. The long form includes these items as well as a narrative and the type of discharge, such as honorable, other than honorable, general or other-than-honorable. There are also codes indicating if a veteran may re-enlist. For lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender veterans, discharge papers reflecting outdated policies — such as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" — can cause a loss of access to earned military benefits and services.