Blue Discharge - House Report On Blue Discharges

House Report On Blue Discharges

In response to reports about the disparate treatment of blue-ticket veterans, the House Committee on Military Affairs appointed a special committee to review the Veterans Administration's procedures. The committee, headed by Rep. Carl T. Durham (D-NC), issued its report officially called "Investigations of the National War Effort", commonly known as "Blue Discharges", on January 30, 1946. The committee expressed its amazement that anyone with a blue discharge would risk further stigmatization by speaking out against the discrimination:

It should be borne in mind that even a moderate amount of complaint in a matter of this sort is significant. For a person to make such a complaint in his own case implies that he feels a sense of injustice so great that he is willing to risk publicizing the stigma of having been discharged from the Army under circumstances which savor of disgrace. For each complainant there are many more who feel the same sense of injustice but prefer to bury their hurt in as much oblivion as possible.

In examining case histories of blue-discharge veterans, the committee found that "the procedure lends itself to dismissals based on prejudice and antagonism". Further, the committee found that the effects of a blue discharge "differ little from those of a dishonorable discharge...the discharged man finds it difficult to get or keep a job. The suspicion of society is aroused against him, all the worse in some ways for carrying an atmosphere of mystery." The report said that "nothing could more clearly prove the anomalous and illogical and disingenuous nature of the blue discharge than this policy of the Veterans Administration". The committee called the system for dealing with blue-ticket veterans "a squeeze play between the war department and the veterans' administration" and took the agency to task for assuming "the right to separate the sheep from the goats" and "passing moral verdicts on the history of any soldier".

To reform the discharge system the committee recommended:

  • Automatic review for all blue discharges
  • That the Army be required to demonstrate that it made multiple attempts to rehabilitate the service member before issuing a blue discharge
  • The right to counsel for service members being given a blue discharge, either provided by the military or private counsel
  • Copies of procedural regulations regarding the blue discharge process be provided upon request
  • That any discharge that did not specify the quality of service state plainly that it is not dishonorable

The committee also recommended changing the discharge system to four classifications: honorable and dishonorable, with no change in their definitions; "under honorable conditions" to replace the blue discharge; and general, to cover separation for misconduct.

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