An “Other Than Honorable” (OTH) discharge is an administrative separation from the military resulting from misconduct or disciplinary problems, indicating that a service member’s behavior or performance fell below expected standards. OTH discharge can stem from disciplinary measures, violations of military regulations, drug-related offenses, or other misconduct. This type of discharge can greatly impact eligibility for benefits and prospects in the civilian job market.

Other Than Honorable Discharge Affecting Clearance

Will a significant other’s OTH discharge affect your chances of obtaining a clearance? View this full thread.

“Hello. So my fiancé has a top secret security clearance and is in the Army training to be a Linguist. Well, I am currently on probation for a misdemeanor regarding a domestic violence case, which is soon to be expunged in October. I was also prior service and was given an Other Than Honorable Discharge, but am currently trying to raise my status. Will this relationship jeopardize her clearance? And if so, if i raise my status, will this help at all?”

The most serious nonpunitive discharge, an OTH discharge, is usually given to U.S. service members who have engaged in significant offenses or misconduct. In general, any discharge that is not honorable or general is often referred to as a “bad paper discharge.” If you have a discharge status that is not “Honorable,” you have the option to apply for a military discharge upgrade. To proceed, you need to submit the correct DD Form to the relevant Discharge Review Board (DRB) and present your case for why your discharge should be elevated.

As for this person’s fiancé’s security clearance, security clearance holders are required to self-report life events that relate to the policy directives.  Self-reporting includes a requirement to list spouses or cohabitants. Reporting your fiancé’s OTH discharge and prior misdemeanor? Not on the list.

The poster probably doesn’t need to worry about his issues affecting his fiancé – they’re not reportable and likely to come up. But if the poster decides to embark on their own cleared career in the future, passage of time will be a key factor in mitigating legal and military service status issues. Like criminal issues, the security clearance process will consider the charges, not what the charge was plead down to. The cause of the OTH discharge will be the greater relevance in the clearance process – not that specific status.

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Katie Helbling is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 10+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸