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Uncharacterized Military Discharge

Old 05-24-2023, 05:55 PM
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Question Uncharacterized Military Discharge

Hey there APF,

Thanks for reading. I have always wanted to be a commercial pilot. In 2016 I was discharged from the military, and my DD-214 Member-4 release paperwork states I received an Uncharacterized Discharge, Separation Code JFY, Re-enlistment code RE3 (can re-enlist with waiver), Narrative Reason: Adjustment Disorder.

The explanation behind my discharge from Basic Training? I was going through the toughest part of my life I have experienced so far. I had just graduated from high school, my parent was slowly dying at home, I was stressed about not knowing what my life path should be, and the intensities experiences during Basic Training just exacerbated all of my anxieties about the aforementioned stressors. I indicated to another service member that I was not doing well emotionally, and was discharged after I expressed my mental health situation and disinterest in continuing to be in the military.

Since that low in my life, I have graduated from a University with a 3.8 GPA, been a Software Engineer for a year, and now I'm a Systems Engineer. I have accomplished a lot in my professional life since being discharged more than 5 years ago.

Assuming I am able to hold a first class medical and an ATP, will all of the legacy airlines turn me away when they see my DD-214? I'm really hoping I can make this my new career. That could be at a cargo carrier, or a major, or a regional...

Thanks for your help.
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Old 05-25-2023, 06:54 AM
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Historically a failure to adjust to military life would be disqualifer for top tier airlines, and a potential stumbling block for others. Airline life isn't boot camp, but it's pretty structured, and occasionally you have to work at all hours potentially under stress.

But times (and labor laws) have changed. In some states they may not even be able to ask for DD214 copy 4, although even copy 1 would show a very short period of service, indicating that you were released from initial training. Since they're going to see that anyway, and when you report military service history on the application, might as well plan on being honest and explaining it.

I don't think regionals, or second tier majors, or any other pilot employers will care too much given your subsequent success in life.

I'd say you also have a good shot at top tier airlines, this is simply something you can explain. It will be important IMO that you convey a lesson-learned. From my perspective as a senior mil officer, a recruit in your situation should have been released on compassionate grounds before the situation got bad. I suspect today that they would maintain better SA on recruits, and any outside stressors they may have. So the lesson-learned might have been to proactively ask for help from proper channels if outside factors interfere with work... this is actually important for airlines, since they do not want stressed out, distracted pilots flying their planes. That's a well known safety hazard.

I think as long as you can convey a lesson learned, any rational person will understand the situation... at that age, in boot camp, you simply didn't know to ask for help (but you do now).

Worst case, second-tier airlines are still a good life, better than 95% of office jobs IMO.

But one more thing... if there were any mental health issues diagnosed or "suicidal ideations" actually DOCUMENTED in any mil records (medical or admin) you are going to have to address this with the FAA to get a medical. Do not lie about that sort of thing on an FAA medical application, that's go-to-federal-prison stuff and they enforce it occasionally. Even in that case, I think you can still get a medical with a brief, one-time, situation-induced period of depression.
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Old 05-25-2023, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by SteamedHams View Post
Hey there APF,

Thanks for reading. I have always wanted to be a commercial pilot. In 2016 I was discharged from the military, and my DD-214 Member-4 release paperwork states I received an Uncharacterized Discharge, Separation Code JFY, Re-enlistment code RE3 (can re-enlist with waiver), Narrative Reason: Adjustment Disorder.

The explanation behind my discharge from Basic Training? I was going through the toughest part of my life I have experienced so far. I had just graduated from high school, my parent was slowly dying at home, I was stressed about not knowing what my life path should be, and the intensities experiences during Basic Training just exacerbated all of my anxieties about the aforementioned stressors. I indicated to another service member that I was not doing well emotionally, and was discharged after I expressed my mental health situation and disinterest in continuing to be in the military.

Since that low in my life, I have graduated from a University with a 3.8 GPA, been a Software Engineer for a year, and now I'm a Systems Engineer. I have accomplished a lot in my professional life since being discharged more than 5 years ago.

Assuming I am able to hold a first class medical and an ATP, will all of the legacy airlines turn me away when they see my DD-214? I'm really hoping I can make this my new career. That could be at a cargo carrier, or a major, or a regional...

Thanks for your help.
The trick will be any associated psych diagnosis or medications, and clearing those hurdles with the FAA for a class 1 medical. While I have not seen this specific discharge on an application the Wholly Owned regionals have taken multiple people with not Honorable Discharges. When I asked my peers in recruiting about it they said as long as it wasnít an OTH or Dishonorable discharge, it wasnít a big deal.
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Old 05-25-2023, 08:28 AM
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Your First Class Medical is your first hurdle.
You can try and spin it every which way but you were released from the military for psych reasons. Thatís a big liability for a future employer, especially the top tier airlines as thereís a lot of money to be made in lawsuits.
Even knowing a couple of airlines will hire you doesnít mean youíll have a satisfying career if you canít move up.
Yes, there are times that airlines will hire with DUIís, arrests, felonies and what not but that stops the next cycle comes around.
Get your Medical, get your Private and see if this is really something youíd want to pursue.
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Old 05-25-2023, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by TiredSoul View Post
You can try and spin it every which way but you were released from the military for psych reasons.
No. This is not correct.

You can be released from the mil for lack of suitability, difficulty adapting or adjusting.

Even if the SEP code and narrative uses such words, that in and of itself is not a DSM diagnosis. There is no DSM mental health disorder for "doesn't adapt well to military service".

If you were seen by medical professionals, evaluated and diagnosed in writing with an actual mental health disorder that is quite a different matter and entirely relevant to FAA medical certification. But if that were the case, you would almost certainly have been retained on active duty for treatment for some period of time and then transitioned to VA care or even medical retirement (the later probably wouldn't happen for a recruit).

Now the 8500 form DOES ask if you've been rejected for military service for medical reasons and this might count for that. So the issue will be considered in that context, but not necessarily a mental health diagnosis.

We can't really address how that will play out without knowing all the details.

I'd definitely get an FAA 1C medical before considering aviation as a career. Find a good AME who will discuss the situation with you BEFORE you fill out the medical application. Or pay a consulting service such as AMAS.
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Old 05-25-2023, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by rickair7777 View Post
Even if the SEP code and narrative uses such words, that in and of itself is not a DSM diagnosis. There is no DSM mental health disorder for "doesn't adapt well to military service".

.
There is - adjustment disorder

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-...t/drc-20355230

Itís the dsm catchall for ďheís fine, just going through tough times right nowĒ
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Old 05-25-2023, 10:45 AM
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Adjustment disorder
Iíve spend a little time on Google looking for similar discharge codes and some of the results are similar to the OP.
It was a way to get out without a full understanding of future consequences.
Now you have the label.
How much hardship have you had during the last couple of years pursuing your new career path?
As far as flight training is concerned a shocking 70% starts and never finishes.
Flight training is not all fun and games and fair weather from a mental perspective.
There will be very stressful times.
Now a reasonably good school can push 97% of their students through, sometimes with many re-doís and failed check rides.
Still doesnít mean that youíll be successful in a career.
Once you make it to big(ger) aircraft the clock starts ticking the day you walk in the door.
You have so much time to prepare, you have so many days of class room, then you have a limited number of simulator sessions.
You may get one or two re-doís and thatís it youíre in front of a training review board.
People wash out off airline training every day all day. Same once you start on the job line training and youíre on a probationary first year.
Sure, you can resign from training to instead of being terminated but Delta has a question on their application similar to ĎHave you ever resigned from training in lieu of termination?í
Iíve been in training with people in the middle of a contentious divorce with kids not wanting to talk to them and they struggled through and succeeded.
This is a harsh environment.
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Old 05-26-2023, 05:37 AM
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Come on guys. 18 year old with a dying parent gets sent home after a few weeks in boot camp not having done anything awful ... yeah, you can come back from that. No it doesn't mean your a LOSER. Lotta people do a lot of growing up between 18 and ... oh how about 23 before which the FAA won't even give you an ATP. There's presumably a reason for that.
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Old 05-26-2023, 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Brickfire View Post
There is - adjustment disorder

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-...t/drc-20355230

It’s the dsm catchall for “he’s fine, just going through tough times right now”
No. A discharge code is not a medical diagnosis.

The DD214, and the people who type it up at RTC, do not constitute medical diagnosis or medical professionals. But there's a box for that on the 8500 form, which he might have to check anyway.
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Old 05-26-2023, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Brickfire View Post
Come on guys. 18 year old with a dying parent gets sent home after a few weeks in boot camp not having done anything awful ... yeah, you can come back from that. No it doesn't mean your a LOSER. Lotta people do a lot of growing up between 18 and ... oh how about 23 before which the FAA won't even give you an ATP. There's presumably a reason for that.

Life involves decisions.
Decisions have consequences.
Iíll never be an Olympic medalist or a Concert pianist or an astronaut.
Too many skeletons in my closet to ever run for office. At least according to my wife.
Thatís the way it is.
Itís a blemish and the market will determine hire ability. Too much of a question mark in my opinion.
But hey Iíve been wrong before and it doesnít mean I have no sympathy for the OP.
You post here for advice and Iíve given you my opinion.
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