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Ways to Get an Early Discharge from the Military

There are a variety of ways to gain an early discharge from the military, but only a handful of ways to do so while maintaining a good standing.

There are plenty of ways to earn an early discharge from the military, however, many of these methods are not common, or will earn you a discharge that will remove your good standing with the branch and your service. 

Some of the ways you can earn an early discharge include pregnancy, a psychological condition, medical conditions, and family dependency. Though these circumstances might not be common, it allows you to gauge the reasoning behind those who get out of their military contract early. These are the top ten reasons. 

Release for Education

The DOD, or the Department of Defense, allows military members to discharge early for education, this is if they are within 90 days of their separation date. 

As one of the ways to get an early discharge from the military, being released for education allows members to request separation after being accepted at an accredited school, such as for medical training as optometrists, clinical psychologists, dentists, osteopaths, and physicians. This process varies from branch to branch, but most offer separations 90 days prior to their normal separation date. 


A military discharge can be requested due to a death or permanent disability to the soldier's immediate family, or other situations such as this. As one of the ways to get an early discharge from the military, a hardship may be hard to qualify for, because there isn't much leniency when it comes to circumstances such as this. 

However, if hardship discharge isn't qualifiable for you, you might qualify for a humanitarian assignment. Every branch in the military does offer military hardship discharges, though. 

Psychological Condition

It is possible to be determined that you are not able to complete your enlistment due to a psychological condition. This condition would impair your ability to perform your duties, thus resulting in a non-voluntary discharge. 

This would be decided by your administration, and it would be based on your counseling and personnel records. This would also include any documented history of the psychological problem. To be diagnosed, this must be done by only a qualified psychiatrist or clinical psychologist. And to receive an honorable discharge, you must receive a good to excellent rating for what you have thus completed before diagnosis. 


Next, on our list of the ways to get an early discharge from the military, is due to medical or physical discharges. You will qualify for such a discharge due to injury or a debilitating illness during your time serving. 

Conditions such as seasickness, airsickness, or obesity will also qualify you for a physical discharge. However, this must be determined and diagnosed by your branch, and it must affect your duties and obligations of your job. To receive an honorable discharge, you must receive a good to excellent rating for your service. 

Family Dependency

A member of the military may leave before their enlistment is completed due to family dependency. Family dependency covers immediate family members who require emotional, physical, or financial assistance, immediately. 

This can be caused by serious illness or other circumstances that require instant care from their immediate family. To qualify for leave, you must prove your assistance to this family member's circumstance, and the reasoning behind what would cause it to become worse, if they remained in service. To receive an honorable discharge, you must receive a good to excellent rating for your service.


A female member of the military can request separation automatically due to a sudden pregnancy during active duty. As one of the ways to get an early discharge from the military, this is clearly not a common way, but one that certainly gets almost an immediate approval. 

However, all branches of the military handle pregnancy differently, and they all offer maternity leave for those serving. 

Sole Surviving Son or Daughter

It is possible to request an early discharge from the military if you are the sole surviving son or daughter. This means that you have had a sibling who has passed in the service for their country as a military member. 

Though this may be a bit confusing to many, you are not qualified to request a discharge due to your sibling's death unrelated to the military, or if you are born an only child. 

Government Convenience

Government convenience is an early discharge from the military on the government's terms. For example, you can be discharged to enter a commissioning program, because the military can use your service better this way. It can also mean that your job is not needed to be filled anymore, and the government will then allow you to either separate from your program, or from the service entirely.  


To complete our list of the ways to get an early discharge from the military, we've got to cover the ways that some military personnel may be removed from the service against their will, due to an involuntarily discharge. 

Some men and women do this on purpose, because you cannot simply quit the military, and others not. Being released from the military this way will eliminate your chances of receiving an honorable discharge. Some of these reasons include failing weight and fitness requirements, failing training, illegal drug use, misconduct, or AWOL. 

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