Public Trust question


-About 2 years ago, I applied for a position that required completion of an SF-85p and MBI. I was adjudicated and still work at the agency.

-2 years before applying for said position I received a General (under honorable conditions) discharge from the Army Reserve for “unsatisfactory participation” - I quit going to drill for personal reasons. However, at the time I was filling out the SF-85p I was truthfully unaware that I was discharged for this reason. My confusion came from my military contract “National Call to Service”. This specific contract required approximately 2 years active duty (which I completed with an Honorable discharge), 2 years active ready reserve (which I also completed, in fact, I drilled for a total of 3 years and 11 months), and then the remaining 4 of my 8 year military commitment could be spent in either the IRR, ready reserve, or active duty. At any rate, when I could no longer attend drill, and accumulated 9 unauthorized absences, I was given transfer orders to the IRR from my command. Following the transfer orders I was sent documentation for “administrative separation” and a recommendation from my CO that I be transferred (not discharged) to the “standy reserves inactive” which I interpreted as a transfer to the IRR where I would fulfill the remainder of my contract. That concludes any and all documentation I was sent by my command for this period of military service (I have all the documentation).

Now, about a year after I get my job (with an adjudicated MBI) I went to an Army recruiter to re enlist in the reserves. The recruiter told me I was given a General (under honorable conditions) discharge for unsatisfactory participation and an RE-4. I was shocked and explained my situation, as described above, as a result, I was granted a waiver and allowed to re-enlisted for 4 years. (I’ll receive an Honorable discharge after this current enlistment).

My concern is on my SF-85p, specifically, section #12 asks "Has any of the following happened to you in the last 7 years? (Fired from a job, quit a job after being told you’d be fired, left a job by mutual agreement following allegations of misconduct, left a job by mutual agreement following allegations of unsatisfactory performance, or left a job for other reasons under unfavorable circumstances) I answered NO.

However, I did list all the correct dates of my military service (including my reserve time) in section #16. So, its not like I was trying to conceal that period of service. I also found it weird that the SF-85p does not ask for military discharge characterization, why is this?

At any rate, my concern is that when I’m re-investigated at the 5 year mark this may come up as an issue. Am I being paranoid? Is there something I should do about this? Also, by the time I’m re-investigated, the period of reserve service that resulted in the General (under honorable conditions) discharge will be outside the 7 year scope of section #12. Should I still list it or discuss it with an investigator?

Any constructive feedback would be much appreciated. Thank you.

I think the key point is the General under Honorable conditions which isn’t like you were given dishonorable or other than honorable (OTH). Either of those would be something they’d be concerned about. Plus the fact that you were able to re-enlist. I guess the only thing you did “wrong” was not request transfer to the IRR but just stopped going to drills.

By the way I used to be in the reserves and we’d get folks like this fairly frequently, they’d come off active duty, come to drills for a few months, then just decide it wasnt for them. That’s not saying it is a trivial matter, but it is not that unusual.

Interesting that the SF 85 doesn’t ask about characterization of discharge as the SF 86 does in section 15. In and of itself it wouldn’t be a showstopper but it would require scoping. At times very bad conduct is simply handled as a general discharge, failure to adapt or “39-11” as the Air Force used to call it. Other times it is merely a means for processing an administrative discharge. Time is your friend in this situation. I am not asking your personal reasons you felt justified in not showing up 9 times, but be prepared to present and defend that choice. Don’t be defensive and claim you are justified. Obviously your CO felt otherwise and it is up to the investigator to gather the relevant facts for others to make a determination if you are trustworthy. I’m not trying to beat you up, just frank. You were trusted to show up. You didn’t. 9 times. If you can explain it away as youthful arrogance and stupidity…that might play better than any of the rather weak excuses I have heard. Now, if a parent was terminally ill with cancer and you are the caregiver…I think you may have a solid case. But if it was far less than that…don’t try to spin a small circumstance into justifiable behavior. You may try to overturn the discharge characterization if it was done without notice to you. That indicates you feel wronged and wanted to correct the record. I myself fought a bad eval in the Air Force and went to the board of correction of military records. It was a 2 year fight, my package was repeatedly rejected for one reason or another but I kept correcting it and resubmitting it . Eventually I won. It was a matter of principle to me.

Just for the record, one drill weekend is four drills or “battle assemblies.” If you miss one drill weekend without prior coordination you get four “U’s.” Don’t show up for the third weekend and you hit the 9 U threshold.

I think maybe in this case, the fact that the individual fulfilled their obligation to serve in a drilling unit is a positive. The only thing missing would have been a formal request to go into the IRR. But I’ve heard of people getting the runaround on this (if you’re fully qualified, then you help the commander make his numbers) so that can be a reason.

Roger that. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind I knew that, but it didn’t come forward. I did want to make the point of how it sounds on paper. To a background investigator with zero military background…it reads far worse as missing 9 drills than missing one two day period. I HAVE experienced a few administrative machines in my career discharging folks simply to move them off the books and bring in fresh blood. It may very well be what happened in this situation with no notice to the person. But again, how it reads and and what may be the case…has to be accurately captured. I didn’t want to come across as throwing shade, just bluntly getting to the point of contention and wanting to give the advice of not trying to justify bad behavior if there is any. Far too often (we see it here) people try to spin certain events in their favor. I am a proponent of just owning the bad behavior and humbly explaining why it is an anomaly and not routine behavior.

The feedback is appreciated.

I don’t know if you all missed the part in my previous post explaining that I was adjudicated 2 years ago with the general discharge in my background (which happened 4 years ago). I did accurately list my dates of military service in my sf85p; however, I answered “NO” to section #12 regarding employment terminations etc. (see my original post for details). With that being said my question is:

  1. should bring this up when I’m re investigated in 3 years? (It will be outside the 7 year employment scope by that time)

I queried OPM once on listing a discharge for misconduct under that section on the SF-85P and OF-306 and was informed that military service does not apply. However, it is does not say to exclude military service, and in my mind you were getting paid to do a job, so it should have been listed. Having said that, the military service check on the BI covers it and if they favorably adjudicated it there is no reason to bring it up unless required to or asked.


Thank you for the info.


One more question if you don’t mind answering. Do you foresee this issue has something that may revoke my public trust when I’m reinvestigated at the 5 year mark?

If that is the only issue then no, it should not affect maintaining eligibility for public trust.

1 Like

Thanks for the feedback.


With respect to this issue I’ve outlined in this thread, if I applied for a position requiring completion of an SF-86 should I say I was “fired” from the reserves (in section 13) Or just list my general discharge in the military section (section 15) and explain my situation?

My concern is that on my SF-85p a couple years ago I answered “NO” to section 12 (employment question regarding firing, quitting, etc.). So if I answer “YES” now on an sf-86 in section 13 when asked about being fired it shows a clear disparity.