Most people, whether they have served in the military or not, are familiar with the term “honorable discharge.” Likewise, most people can also discern the meaning of a “dishonorable discharge.” However, understanding the general gist of the term is not the same as fully grasping the consequences of receiving such a designation. According to Vet Verify, dishonorable discharges are only handed down by the military for the most reprehensible conduct.

Dishonorable discharges are only given after a conviction at a general court-martial for extremely heinous offenses. These offenses can include murder, sexual assault, and desertion. Generally speaking, the dishonorable discharge designation is not the only part of the punishment.

With a dishonorable discharge, the individual will lose all access to veteran’s benefits, no matter if there was honorable conduct in the past. Additionally, persons who receive dishonorable discharges are no longer allowed to possess firearms or vote, much like civilian felons. It can be extremely difficult to obtain civilian employment after a dishonorable discharge, given that many employers are required to do background checks. You will also be unable to work at any level of government and will not be able to acquire bank loans.

Aside from the loss of a considerable amount of privileges and benefits, there is also a large social stigma attached to receiving a dishonorable discharge. Holding this discharge can mean a great loss of standing with former comrades, and make personal relationships outside of the military difficult as well. Traveling will become difficult, as a dishonorable discharge will even follow you overseas.

It is important to take all steps necessary to prevent receiving a dishonorable discharge. It is a black mark on your record very similar to being convicted of a felony.