Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Right Way; The Wrong Way; The Army Way

I have here, before me, my discharge papers; my DD form 214. It has, among other things, my dates of service, MOS, training completed, and type of discharge or character of service as they like to call it: Honorable.

But in a section called "Transfer or Discharge Data" lies a ticking bomb. Line 11c sub-headed Reason and Authority references an army regulation and the obscure code SPN followed by a number. I never paid much attention to all the military jargon and codes on my DD214.

If you are a Vet and reading this dig out your DD214 and check your SPN. From the Veterans' Bulletin (Jan 15, 2008) I have linked on the right of this blog, read this:

"Spin Code Lawsuit: This case was originally filed in the US District Court, Northern District of New York, Syracuse and aspects of it are still being litigated. The lawsuit began in MAR 76 when Edwin Cosby with an Honorable Discharge discovered he had a bad "Spin Code" (i.e. Separation Program Number). Unknown to him and most other veterans beginning 11 JUN 56 under D.O.D. Instruction 1336.3 DOD ordered the military departments to begin putting a coded number on the main employment reference document of veterans. This document known as the DD-214 is often by employers of veterans seeking employment and benefits. DoD prepares eight or more copies of a veteran's DD-214 of which copy one goes to the veteran and others are eventually sent to State Adjutant General, VA Data Processing Center, Austin, TX. State Director Selective Service, and National Military Records Center, St. Louis MO. At a congressional hearing in 1974 DoD told Congress that only a couple hundred thousand documents had a code number and the "SPN" coding system would be stopped. However, in 1972, DoD started changing their "SPN" system to the "SPD" (separation program designator) and by 1977 nearly 20 million veterans with Honorable Discharges had a coded number. Congress subsequently attempted to pass a law regarding the use of the coded numbers; however, this failed to pass.

Numerous major corporations have admitted to having the codes and use them in their employment decisions regarding veterans. Banks, life insurance companies, State Government & Federal Government Agencies have them as well. Lists of the codes were sent to FAA, (federal aviation admin.), HUD, (housing & urban development), and Office Personnel Management. Even on an Honorable discharge, a "Spin Code" can hurt a veteran's chance of being hired by a prospective employer, obtaining a loan, and/or obtaining insurance. A few examples of spin codes and their meanings are:SPN 258 - Unfitness, multiple reasons SPN 263 - Bedwetter SPN 41A - Apathy, lack of interest SPN 41E - Obesity SPN 46C - Apathy / Obesity SPN 463 - Paranoid personality

A complete listing of spin codes can be found at http://www.landscaper.net/discharg.htm Veterans can request a new DD 214 with the spin codes removed. If you were in the US Army, written requests for having a SPN code removed from your DD 214 (Report of Separation from Active Duty) or earlier discharge papers, should be sent to: Commander, Reserve Components Personnel & Administrative Center, Box 12479, Ollivette Branch, St. Louis, MO 63132. Additional info on this subject is available at http://veterancourtcodes.com/ which contains a 90 minute video on the subject. [Source: Veteran's Forum 9 Jan 07 and Ed Crosby ecrosby1@rochester.rr.com ++] "

Use the links and find out what the Army really thought of your service. Think back to those jobs you lost out on and had included your DD214 as a reference.

My SPN code is 411: "Early separation of overseas returnee." It gives no reason for my early separation. The reason I had an early out was because, as a draftee, I had a two year active duty commitment, a two year active reserve commitment, and a two year inactive commitment. Well, in 1969, the Army Reserves were filled to capacity with the priviledged, well-connected, rich or just plain lucky draft-dodgers. (See Dan Quayle, e.g.) And in April, 1969 anyone returning from Viet-Nam with less than 150 days left in their active duty commitment were given a discharge and assigned as inactive to a reserve unit. Four years later I got a letter stating my commitment was ended.

None of this is on the DD-214. "Early separation of overseas returnee" could mean anything. I could have had VD and got discharged. No, there is a SPN code for that. I could have been homosexual; nope, there's a code for that. And your prospective employer had access to all those codes.

I am of the age that it really doesn't matter to me much now. However, I'm getting my "spin" code removed from my discharge. I urge you or any vets you know to do the same. We don't need the army putting any more labels on us.

At the time I was drafted students were protesting, politicians were taking stands against the war, soldiers were being vilified, and my life was being effing interrupted for a cause I didn't believe in. But I went. As I got older and somewhat wiser, I was reconciled to my service and even took pride in it. Just when I was using my DD-214 as a reference, the Army could have thrown a spanner in the works. Screwed again and gaining no pleasure from it.

BRB is Write (and will still prevail)


Blogger phlegmfatale said...

Holy moly! That's so crappy of them. Good on you for getting on top of it, though. What an insult to the men and women who have served!

1:44:00 AM  
Blogger brbiswrite said...


Always a pleasure to hear from you. Tell all your vet friends to check their discharge DD-214.


11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Stingray said...

Mine translates to "Other."
I suppose I can live with a mysterious "other" as opposed to some of the weird codes like "got vd from wetting the bed and soliciting monkeys" or something. Thanks for the heads up on this.

4:55:00 PM  

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