ISS3 2012

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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Coast Guard Office of General Law (CG- 0944) for a legal sufficiency review and final policy and guidance interpretations and recommendations under everything you want the Board to know in writing. the auspices of the Judge Advocate General of the Coast Guard. This office will then submit the oast uardǯs final Ǯadvisory opinion' on the application back to the Board. The Board will then mail a copy of the Coast Guard's advisory opinion to the applicant for review, where the applicant will have an opportunity to tell the Board what they think about the Coast Guard's advisory opinion. After this 30-day period is over, the BCMR staff creates a draft decision and places it with the case files in front of a panel of three civilian attorneys of the Department of Homeland Security for review, deliberation, and final adjudication. Most decisions of the Board are final, but a few are subject to review by the delegate of the Secretary pursuant to 33 CFR §52.64. How long will it take to receive a final decision? Unless you request an extension, modify your request, or submit evidence late, the Board will issue its decision within 10 months of your application being completed. If the Board has not issued a decision within 10 months, you may be able to get a court order directing the Board to issue the decision within 30 days as provided under 14 USC §425. In certain simple cases, the Coast Guard is able to correct an applicant's record within 3 or 4 months without the Board issuing a decision. Should I hire legal counsel? This is a personal decision. All BCMR cases are evaluated objectively and impartially whether the applicant uses legal representation or not. The decision to hire legal counsel should weigh such factors as the possible gain at stake, the legal complexity of one's case, the technical complexity of one's case (such as a medical matter), the amount of time and research needed to substantiate the best argument, et cetera. Groups such as the VFW or American Legion may offer free or subsidized legal assistance to veterans. The application asks if I would like to appear before the Board. Is this necessary? You may request an oral hearing before the Board in Washington, D.C., at your own expense. The Board may or may not grant one. It is not necessary to appear in person to ensure a complete and impartial review. In fact, oral hearings are rare, so make sure that you submit 38 RESERVIST ᕇ *TTVF t What about court-martial convictions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice? The Board cannot overturn a court- martial conviction but it does have the authority to grant clemency on a court- martial sentence or correct the military record of a member whose conviction has been overturned on appeal. Can I review past decisions of the BCMR? Yes, and this is a good idea. You may think your case is unique, but chances are you are not the first one. The "Boards of Review Reading Rooms" website is where redacted cases from all military branches are posted and searchable by keyword(s) online. Even if you do not find a case exactly like yours, you may still learn how similar cases have been evaluated and decided. You may also print a past final decision and include it with your application arguing that your case should be resolved in the same way. This site can be accessed at . What are my chances of getting my record corrected? The odds are pretty good. In fiscal year ʹ011ǡ for exampleǡ ͵ͺΨ of applications were resolved by the Coast Guard to the applicants' satisfaction requiring no oard actionǢ ʹͺΨ resulted in full relief granted by the Board; 6% resulted in partial relief granted by the Board; and only ʹͺΨ were denied in full by the Board. Of course some types of cases are harder to win than others, and your success may depend upon whether you are able to submit substantial evidence supporting your allegations of error or injustice. So how do I start the process? Applying for any type of relief through the BCMR is considered a private matter and does not need to be routed through your chain of command (if applicable). The best way to start the process is to navigate to for more information. Here you can also download the necessary application (DD Form 149) as well as find the mailing address and contact information of the Board. What should I submit with my DD-149 application? Anything and everything you feel is pertinent. Do not rely on the notion that a vital document or information is already contained in your record – because it may not be. You should organize and submit for review any information and documentation you possess that supports your claim. You may also want to gather and submit signed statements from others who witnessed or have knowledge of the error or injustice. What should I keep in mind before I send in my application? As the applicant, it is important to understand that "the Board begins its consideration of each case presuming administrative regularity on the part of the Coast Guard and other Government officials. The applicant has the burden of proving the existence of an error or injustice by the preponderance of the evidence" (33 CFR §52.24(b)). In other words, the responsibility to substantiate that an error exists and that this error has caused or has the potential to cause an injustice rests solely on you, the applicant. Again, neither the Board nor the Coast Guard is required to conduct an investigation in response to a BCMR application. What are the possible outcomes I can expect? To reach a final decision the Board will review all of your submissions, your military record, the Coast Guard's advisory opinion, and any applicable case law or court precedents on the matter. The Board may grant your request in full or in part, or it may deny your request. Regardless of the outcome, a written final decision will be provided to explain the Board's findings and rationale. After a favorable final decision is reached, then what? The Board will send its final decision back to PSC to effect final action. PSC will then coordinate required record corrections with the appropriate field-level Servicing Personnel Office (legacy PERSRU), the Coast Guard Pay and Personnel Center ȋ in opekaǡ Ȍǡ or complete the required corrections in-house. What do I do if I am not satisfied with the outcome? After the Board has issued its final decision, an applicant may either apply for reconsideration pursuant to 33 CFR §52.67 or file suit in federal district court or the United States Court of Federal Claims. Reconsideration through the BCMR should be sought first before pursuing redress through the federal court system.

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