Ways to Screw Up and What Happens If You Do

Some of the activities that are prohibited during BCT include:

  • Insubordination
  • Failure to perform any duties
  • Being absent without leave (AWOL)
  • Fraternization
  • Use of any tobacco product.
  • Possession/consumption of food outside of the designated meal hours and areas
  • Possession of contraband

Those caught doing a prohibited activity, will likely have their drill sergeant recommend a non-judicial punishment (NJP) (UCMJ Article 15) to the commander. An Article 15 or NJP can involve any or all of the following:

  • Restriction to specific tasks for up to 45 days
  • Extra duty to replace “personal time” for up to 45 days
  • Forfeiture of up to one month's pay over a period of two months
  • Reduction by one grade of rank (demotion) and the corresponding pay cut
  • Verbal or written reprimand

If a drill sergeant decides to recommend an Article 15, you are brought before the company commander and given an option to have a public or private hearing. The drill sergeant presents his or her reasons for the citation and recommends an appropriate punishment. The recruit then has the opportunity to defend his or her actions. If the company commander agrees with the drill sergeant, the Article 15 is imposed. The recruit will either accept the punishment or appeal the decision to the battalion commander. The process with the batalion commander is the same as with the company commander, but the battalion commander's decision is final.

If the violation is severe enough, a recruit can be discharged from the US Army during BTC. Discharges which occur before 180 days of training are completed are neither honorable nor less than honorable. An Entry Level Separation (ELS) can occur when a recruit demonstrates unsatisfactory performance and/or misconduct. An ELS can happen after 4 weeks of training and 2 counseling sessions, but could be granted sooner if there are extreme circumstances (such as belief the recruit is suicidal). A medical discharge can be obtained by a US Army doctor if it is found that you are unable to train because of a chronic medical condition. A Existing Prior To Service (EPTS) discharge may occur when a recruit is discovered to have a prior medical condition existing before enlistment. A recruit may receive a rare honorable discharge for an EPTS condition if they have been in BCT for more than 180 days.

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