How to Leave the Military Earlier With an Honorable Discharge

An early discharge with a certificate of honor provides special benefits.

Enlisting in any branch of the U.S. military is a commitment the government expects you to fulfill through your full contract term. A time might come when you have to leave the military before your have completed your contract. Because the military takes enlistment seriously, it makes it difficult for you to leave early. Several methods exist by which you can get out of your contract with an honorable discharge.

Meet the standards for an honorable discharge, which is typically conferred to a soldier whose service meets the benchmark of acceptable conduct and demonstrates meritorious performance of duty. Performance ratings and awards are among the criteria used when deciding if a soldier meets this standard.

File for a hardship and dependency discharge. To qualify for this discharge, your hardship or dependency cannot be temporary, you must have tried to resolve the situation, you must demonstrate that the hardship has increased excessively since you enlisted, you must show that the discharge will resolve the hardship and you must prove there are no other methods to resolve the hardship.

File for a pregnancy discharge. Write a letter to your commanding officer stating that you are pregnant and how it will negatively affect the performance of your duty.

File a conscientious objector discharge request, which states that you conscientiously oppose involvement in any form of warfare because of your religious beliefs and that your opposition is deeply felt. Because you signed a statement when you enlisted that confirmed you were not a conscientious objector, your burden is greater to show that you have changed your views since you began serving in the military. Consult with a lawyer, who can help craft the language and strategy for this kind of complicated discharge request.

File for an education discharge for which you are eligible if you are within 90 days of leaving the military. To obtain this discharge, write a letter to your commanding officer stating that you are about to attend school and would like to prepare for your studies.

File for a disability discharge if you are wounded or something happens during your military service that makes you incapable of completing the remainder of your contract. The request must come from a military hospital or medical facility confirming the nature of your disability.

Sampson Quain is a screenwriter and filmmaker who began writing in 1996. He has sold feature and television scripts to a variety of studios and networks including Columbia, HBO, NBC, Paramount and Lionsgate. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting from the University of Southern California.