1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Aug 2006

    Default Military Service

    I'm 23, a volunteer firefighter and paid paramedic, looking to get into paid firefighting. Although I certainly don't expect it to be an easy task, one major concern I have about the application process is my military record. When I was 18 and fresh out of high school, I signed up for (and was sworn in to) the Army Reserves. Prior to shipping out, a serious family emergency came up. I spoke with my recruiter and told him I wished to hold off at that time. He implied that it was no big deal, that I would just have some paperwork to sign, and that I was welcome to come back to him if I changed my mind. Because of that conversation, along with the fact that I had never even gone to basic training, I was not concerned several weeks later when I received a "General Discharge" paper in the mail. I really didn't know what a General Discharge was anyway. All I knew it that it wasn't Dishonorable, so I wasn't worried.
    I put it all behind me until recently, when for one reason or another, I realized that a General Discharge falls under the category of "Other Than Honorable", which is a question on essentially every employment application in the country. I'm also well aware that military service plays a significant role in obtaining a career in the fire service.
    How big of a problem is this for me? Is it something that wouldn't be an issue if I explain what happened? Or is it something that will automatically send my application to the trash. I want a fire career so much that I am considering joining the reserves again in order to clear that blemish; however, if it isn't a big deal, joining the military at this point in my life may not be the best choice. With so much ahead of me to tackle, I would hate for my chances to be ruined before I even start. Opinions?

  2. #2
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Green Bay


    If asked about the military discharge just be up front and honest about it. A general discharge is not a bad discharge by any means and does happen quite often. Even a medical discharge falls under "Other than Honorable". You won't get vet points by any means, but it is not an automatic disqualifer either.

    If the question is on an application, put your discharge on there, just be honest if asked about it. I wouldn't consider going back into the reserves just to clear it up, it may not be that easy anyway. The military is less forgiving than the fire service. As long as you put the information down and it comes up on a background check, you are fine. It is those that try to hide a DUI, or drug possesion charge that have to worry. Just don't hide the fact you have a General Discharge. After all there are some people who are medically disqualified for military service, but are police and firefighters, as are firefighters with OTH discharges.

  3. #3
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    San Francisco Bay Area


    You have a reasonalable explanation here but consider this:

    Military Discharge
    Many candidates who received a less than honorable discharge from the military have been able to have their DD214 changed to honorable with the help of Veterans Affairs and advocate groups. Not the Veterans Administrations! You have to be 6 months to one year free from any other violations.

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

    More Tips on getting hired and promoted by Firehouse Contributing Author Fire “Captain Bob” Articles here:

    Fire "Captain Bob"


  4. #4
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Green Bay


    No offense Capt Bob, but that information doesn't apply here at all. His General Discharge will not get upgraded in any way. He never went to Boot Camp, never served a day of his military obligation, he got out while in the DEP program. You can not get an Honorable Discharge if you never served.

  5. #5
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    Exclamation General Discharge

    I work with plenty of people that have general discharges from the military. Either it was for Medical reasons, hardships (family, weight/physical standards, pregnancy during boot camp, yes I know what you're thinking, but it does happen, etc.) or more negative things like getting caught smokin' opium in Europe, Peeing "hot" in Asia during a routine physical, etc. Yes, all of things have happend to firefighters and paramedics that I work with.

    It all depends on what the nature was and what it was for. It wont be an automatic disqualifyer unless it was for something of "moral turpitude" (...does that sound right, you know if you like, mess up real bad ) and the department that you are applying for sees that you've matured, have an otherwise clean record and are a good person and dose'nt look to hire "Boy Scouts". Then again, it all varies with the department in question that you are going for, so no promises.

    We all make mistakes, that's why were HUMAN.

    Good Luck

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