Honorable vs General Discharge: What’s the Difference?

There are several different types of discharges in the United States military, with the two most common being honorable and general. As explained on the Department of Veterans Affairs website, the way in which a soldier is discharged will affect his or her ability to receive VA benefits and services. So if you currently serve or are thinking of serving, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different discharges. Today, we’re going to reveal the nuances between an honorable and general discharge.

An honorable discharge occurs when a service member has achieved either a good or excellent rating for his or her service. The soldier must also meet or exceed the requirements of performance and personal conduct to receive an honorable discharge. Of course, this is the preferred way to exit the military, as it provides all of the benefits of being a veteran.

It’s a common assumption that only service members who complete their tour of duty can be honorably discharged, but this isn’t the case. There are certain reasons that may allow a soldier to be honorably discharged without completing his or her tour of duty. If a soldier is incapable of performing his or her duties due to physical challenges, for instance, he or she may be honorably discharged from service.

According to Wikipedia, Marines must achieve a proficiency and conduct rating of 3.0/4.0 or higher to receive an honorable discharge.

Now that you know a little bit about honorable discharges, you might be wondering about general discharges. A general discharge is given to military servicemen and women who has satisfactory performance but with a considerable departure in duty and conduct. This includes medical discharges and misconduct to name a few. The unit commander gives a general discharge as a means of disciplining soldiers who fail to meet the standards associated with their respective branch of the military. When giving a general discharge, however, the commander must reveal the reason or reasons for the discharge in writing..

Of course, there’s a third type of discharge that shouldn’t be overlooked: other-than-honorable discharge. Also known as an OTG, this is the worst type of discharge, as it represents a major departure from conduct and performance that is expected of all military servicemen and women. Any soldier who receives an OTH is prohibited from reenlisting with any branch of the military, including the National Guard and Air National Guard.