The Options

The Options

Time to toss out the nametags

So, you want out – here is a brief synopsis of your options for getting out of the military.  I will be going into each in more detail in individual pages for each one, but the purpose of this page is for you to get an idea what each one generally entails.


“I am not a crook,” but I did stay at the White House last night.

 While resignation is generally referred to as “dropping your letter,” there are actually two types.

  • Unqualified – (Favorable) This is what people who say “Are you dropping your letter?” are referring to. You have decided to get out and will send your letter to PERS-834.  This is the majority of resignations and you will receive an Honorable (HON) discharge.  There’s a lot to cover regarding this so make sure you visit the “Dropping your letter” page for all the details.
  • Qualified – (Unfavorable) Someone is “asking” for your resignation, most likely in lieu of a much worse outcome. I can’t offer much advice here due to lack of personal experience, but you probably have a JAG on your side at this point, so I would lean heavily on what he or she is advising you to do.  If it were me in this situation, I would get heavy into MILPERSMAN 1611-010 and 020 and all the references at the top to back him up (He’s going to get paid the same amount no matter how much work he does for you on your case).  Your resignation will most likely be classified as “For the good of the Naval Service”  Note: many of your benefits will decrease or disappear completely if you receive an Other Than Honorable (OTH) Discharge which is what you will receive with this type of resignation.  However, not getting to use the NEX is a lot better than 6 years in Leavenworth.


Landed on the wrong carrier? This dude is about to get FOS’ed!
  • Failure of Selection (FOS) – Commonly referred to using the acronym as a verb as in “Did you hear that BAULDS got FOS’ed?”  After going to two promotion boards for your next rank (usually O-3 going to O-4) you have reached High Year Tenure and will be kicked out of Active Duty.  This actually has quite a few perks.  Make sure you visit the “I got FOS’ed” page for more details and to make sure that you get all the MONIES which you are legally entitled.  I will also do a FOS’ed vs Resign on comparing the pros and cons of these two methods of getting out
"War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today." - John F. Kennedy

Conscientious Objector

“War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.” – John F. Kennedy

While technically this falls under a “Convenience of the Government” Voluntary separation, much the same as a resignation is a voluntary separation, I feel like it needs to be addressed separately. There are several other “Convenience of the Government” separation categories which can be looking into in the SECNAVINST 1920.6C, however, the Contentious Objector subcategory is one that everyone could apply for.  It is governed by DODD 1300.6. The just of it is that you have changed or “evolved” in your personal beliefs on war in a general sense and now feel like it is immoral to participate in a fighting force (there are actually two categories of Contentious Objector see the related post for more details).  I will go over both the criteria and the procedure in another page, but it is important to note that you will have to talk to many people and have convincing reasons on how and why you changed your mind.  There are several other outside sources with information regarding this type of separation which I will link to for interested people. 

Other Separations

Other Separations

  • Other separations – There are many other sub-categories of separation, however, many of them are very limited in scope. For instance, there is the ability to leave if you are going to become a full time minister at a religious organization.  There are also categories for pregnancy. The criteria for many of these separations are quite arduous to say the least, however, anyone interested in finding a way to separate before the EOS (End of Obligated Service) should look through the list in  SECNAVINST 1920.6C ( Read the entire Instruction, but especially Enclosure 2 bullet 5).   See our guide on how to read DOD Pubs here.