You should submit at least five letters from people who can strongly recommend that you be given a discharge upgrade. (You can send more than five letters, but the Board may not read them all if you do.) Think of these letters like character references: they should be written by people who know you well and can vouch for you.
Brainstorm who you know who could write you a good letter of reference. You can ask people like:
- Family members
- Fellow service members who served with you in the military
- Supervisors or coworkers
- Teachers or classmates
- Pastors, rabbis, or other spiritual leaders
Your letter writers should talk about why you should get an upgrade in their references. They should discuss things like:
- Your character (good qualities like caring about other people)
- Your work, activities, and achievements (in your family, at your job, in your community, in charity work, etc.)
- Whether they have first-hand knowledge of errors or injustices in your record (for example, if they witnessed an event that is not described correctly in the record)
- If your application mentions that you have PTSD or another mental-health condition, it can be helpful for your letter writers to give examples of times they saw you dealing with your condition. For example, they could write about being with you when you had an anxiety or panic attack, reacted strongly to reminders of your time in service, or told them about nightmares you were having. They could also write about changes that they saw in your mood or behavior after you returned from service.
- Letters from family and friends (“lay people”) discussing your mental health will not hold as much weight as the opinion of a medical professional like a doctor. You should also attempt to get an evaluation from someone who is trained to find signs of PTSD, TBI, or other mental health conditions.