Veterans Affairs column: Congratulations to a local Boy Scout, remembering a hero and upcoming dates to note

By Jim Alton, Emmet County VA Director


Petoskey Eagle Scout project helps veterans fly

Tyler Hitner, a junior at the Concord Academy of Petoskey, has raised almost $10,000 to help veterans participate in the Mid-Michigan Honor Flight as a part of his Eagle Scout project. Our congratulations to Tyler and we hope his dedication inspires other young men and women to get involved in their community! As Tyler said in his flyer for the program, “It’s never too late to thank a veteran.”


To our great and faithful United States Navy, we wish you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY for 241 years of superior service to our country. With a proud and historic past, we say thank you!

Another hero down

A U.S. service member was killed by an improvised explosive device recently while on foot patrol with Afghan forces engaged in an ongoing offensive against Islamic State fighters, the Pentagon announced.

The death is the seventh for U.S. service members in Afghanistan this year — including three in January, one in June and two in August — and the second this year from an IED, according to the website

Before the most recent death, 1,832 U.S. service members had been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, according to Defense Department data. U.S. deaths in other areas in support of the Afghan mission bring the total to 2,384.

The service member was on a counter-terror mission with Afghan National Defense Security Forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria affiliate known as Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP), which has gained a foothold in eastern Nangarhar province.  We have also lost five police officers in the line of duty recently.

Why is it that we splash Kim Kardashian and other celebrities all over the news, while the very ones who are protecting them have little or no press. We have come a long way to get nowhere.

Information on service records and discharge corrections and challenges

Below is information about correcting service records and discharge papers.

Correction of Military Records

The secretary of a military department, acting through a board for correction of military records, has authority to change any military record when necessary to correct an error or remove an injustice. A correction board may consider applications for correction of a military record, including a review of a discharge issued by courts martial.

The veteran, survivor or legal representative generally must file a request for correction within three years after discovery of an alleged error or injustice. The board may excuse failure to file within the prescribed time, however, if it finds it would be in the interest of justice to do so. It is an applicant’s responsibility to show why the filing of the application was delayed and why it would be in the interest of justice for the board to consider it despite the delay.

To justify any correction, it is necessary to show to the satisfaction of the board that the alleged entry or omission in the records was in error or unjust. Applications should include all available evidence, such as signed statements of witnesses or a brief of arguments supporting the requested correction.

Application is made with DD Form 149, available at our office: 3434 M-119, Suite D, in the John R. Watson Community Resource Center on M-119, Harbor Springs.

Review of Discharges

Each of the military services maintains a discharge review board with authority to change, correct or modify discharges or dismissals that are not issued by a sentence of a general courts-martial. The board has no authority to address medical discharges.

The veteran or, if the veteran is deceased or incompetent, the surviving spouse, next of kin or legal representative may apply for a review of discharge by writing to the military department concerned, using DoD Form 293.

However, if the discharge was more than 15 years ago, a veteran must petition the appropriate service Board for Correction of Military Records using DoD Form 149. A discharge review is conducted by a review of an applicant’s record and, if requested, by a hearing before the board.

It’s important to note that discharges awarded as a result of a continuous period of unauthorized absence in excess of 180 days make persons ineligible for VA benefits regardless of action taken by discharge review boards, unless VA determines there were compelling circumstances for the absence.

Veterans with disabilities incurred or aggravated during active military service may qualify for medical or related benefits regardless of separation and characterization of service. Veterans separated administratively under other than honorable conditions may request that their discharge be reviewed for possible re-characterization, provided they file their appeal within 15 years of the date of separation.

Questions regarding the review of a discharge should be addressed to the appropriate discharge review board at the address listed on DoD Form 293. If you have questions, contact our office at (231) 348-1780 and we can help you.

Upcoming dates to remember

Nov. 10 is the Marine Corps Birthday (of course, one of my favorites) and Nov. 11 is Veterans Day. Veterans: Remember North Central Michigan College in Petoskey offers a free breakfast on Veterans Day, and other businesses in our area also remember to honor your service with specials and activities. Election day is Nov. 8.

Thank you to our Emmet County community for your support of all our veterans!


Jim Alton is the Director of the Veterans Affairs Department within Emmet County. Alton served in the United States Marine Corps (1955-62) and is retired from the Michigan State Police. Reach him or his assistant, Rick Wiertalla, at (231) 348-1780 or The Emmet County Veterans Affairs office is located at 3434 M-119, Suite D, in the John R. Watson Community Resource Center on M-119, Harbor Springs.

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Emmet County, Michigan
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