Discharge and Separation

The Department of Defense defines separation as a general term, “discharge, release from active duty, release from custody and control of the armed forces, transfer to the Individual Ready Reserve, and similar changes in active or reserve status.” Thus, “separated” individuals may or may not be completely relieved of their service obligations—they may still be placed in a reserve status and recalled to duty if they are separated for administrative reasons before they have completed the terms of their original enlistment contract.

Discharge, as a subset of separation, is more final. The Department of Defense defines it as “complete separation from all military status gained through enlistment or induction.” Note that retirement is different from separation or discharge as discussed in this entry.

All separating service ...

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