(a)(1) The Secretary of a military department may correct any military record of the Secretary's department when the Secretary considers it necessary to correct an error or remove an injustice. Except as provided in paragraph (2), such corrections shall be made by the Secretary acting through boards of civilians of the executive part of that military department. The Secretary of Homeland Security may in the same manner correct any military record of the Coast Guard.
(2) The Secretary concerned is not required to act through a board in the case of the correction of a military record announcing a decision that a person is not eligible to enlist (or reenlist) or is not accepted for enlistment (or reenlistment) or announcing the promotion and appointment of an enlisted member to an initial or higher grade or the decision not to promote an enlisted member to a higher grade. Such a correction may be made only if the correction is favorable to the person concerned.
(3) Corrections under this section shall be made under procedures established by the Secretary concerned. In the case of the Secretary of a military department, those procedures must be approved by the Secretary of Defense.
(4) Except when procured by fraud, a correction under this section is final and conclusive on all officers of the United States.
(b) No correction may be made under subsection (a)(1) unless the claimant (or the claimant's heir or legal representative) or the Secretary concerned files a request for the correction within three years after discovering the error or injustice. The Secretary concerned may file a request for correction of a military record only if the request is made on behalf of a group of members or former members of the armed forces who were similarly harmed by the same error or injustice. A board established under subsection (a)(1) may excuse a failure to file within three years after discovery if it finds it to be in the interest of justice.
(c)(1) The Secretary concerned may pay, from applicable current appropriations, a claim for the loss of pay, allowances, compensation, emoluments, or other pecuniary benefits, or for the repayment of a fine or forfeiture, if, as a result of correcting a record under this section, the amount is found to be due the claimant on account of his or another's service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, as the case may be, or on account of his or another's service as a civilian employee.
(2) If the claimant is dead, the money shall be paid, upon demand, to his legal representative. However, if no demand for payment is made by a legal representative, the money shall be paid--
(A) to the surviving spouse, heir, or beneficiaries, in the order prescribed by the law applicable to that kind of payment;
(B) if there is no such law covering order of payment, in the order set forth in section 2771 of this title; or
(C) as otherwise prescribed by the law applicable to that kind of payment.
(3) A claimant's acceptance of a settlement under this section fully satisfies the claim concerned. This section does not authorize the payment of any claim compensated by private law before October 25, 1951.
(4) If the correction of military records under this section involves setting aside a conviction by court-martial, the payment of a claim under this subsection in connection with the correction of the records shall include interest at a rate to be determined by the Secretary concerned, unless the Secretary determines that the payment of interest is inappropriate under the circumstances. If the payment of the claim is to include interest, the interest shall be calculated on an annual basis, and compounded, using the amount of the lost pay, allowances, compensation, emoluments, or other pecuniary benefits involved, and the amount of any fine or forfeiture paid, beginning from the date of the conviction through the date on which the payment is made.
(d) Applicable current appropriations are available to continue the pay, allowances, compensation, emoluments, and other pecuniary benefits of any person who was paid under subsection (c), and who, because of the correction of his military record, is entitled to those benefits, but for not longer than one year after the date when his record is corrected under this section if he is not reenlisted in, or appointed or reappointed to, the grade to which those payments relate. Without regard to qualifications for reenlistment, or appointment or reappointment, the Secretary concerned may reenlist a person in, or appoint or reappoint him to, the grade to which payments under this section relate.
(e) No payment may be made under this section for a benefit to which the claimant might later become entitled under the laws and regulations administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
(f) With respect to records of courts-martial and related administrative records pertaining to court-martial cases tried or reviewed under chapter 47 of this title (or under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (Public Law 506 of the 81st Congress)), action under subsection (a) may extend only to--
(1) correction of a record to reflect actions taken by reviewing authorities under chapter 47 of this title (or under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (Public Law 506 of the 81st Congress)); or
(2) action on the sentence of a court-martial for purposes of clemency.
(g) Any medical advisory opinion issued to a board established under subsection (a)(1) with respect to a member or former member of the armed forces who was diagnosed while serving in the armed forces as experiencing a mental health disorder shall include the opinion of a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist if the request for correction of records concerned relates to a mental health disorder.
(h) In this section, the term “military record” means a document or other record that pertains to (1) an individual member or former member of the armed forces, or (2) at the discretion of the Secretary of the military department concerned, any other military matter affecting a member or former member of the armed forces, an employee or former employee of that military department, or a dependent or current or former spouse of any such person. Such term does not include records pertaining to civilian employment matters (such as matters covered by title 5 and chapters 81, 83, 87, 108, 373, 605, 607, 643, and 873 of this title).
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