How to Join the Military After an Administrative Honorable Discharge

Joining the military after an administrative discharge, even if the discharge is honorable, may not be possible. The possibility depends on the specific circumstances pertaining to your discharge. Your ability to enlist also depends upon whether or not the branch you want to enlist in is accepting people with prior military experience.

Get a copy of your discharge papers, which are called your DD-214. You need the long copy, or undeleted copy, that shows your discharge type and reenlistment code.

Look at your reenlistment code on your DD-214. More than likely, it will be an RE-1 if you were honorably discharged. There may be a letter before or after the 1, but as long as the 1 is there, you should be able to enlist. If your RE code has a number other than 1, you may not be able to enlist or you may need a waiver from a commanding officer to enlist.

Take your DD-214 to your local recruiting office for the branch you want to join. The recruiter can let you know if that branch is accepting prior military enlistees with the reenlistment code on your DD-214. Also bring your photo identification, Social Security card and birth certificate. If you need to get a waiver, the recruiter can get an appointment set for your waiver interview, which must be completed before you can enlist.

Complete enlistment paperwork given to you by the recruiter. In addition to normal enlistment forms, you will fill out forms so your service record can be sent to the appropriate representative for the branch you are interested in joining.

Go to the Military Entrance Processing Center for a physical and background check. If you pass both of these, you will head to classification to decide what job you will do. You may be able to do the same type of job as you previously did; however, you may be asked to train for a new job depending on what the military needs at that time. Once you do this, you will be given your orders or you may be told when to report for your orders.


  • Before signing your paperwork to enlist, check your entering rank to ensure it is correct. In most cases, you will enlist at the same rank as listed on your DD-214 as your discharge rank.

    If you need a copy of your undeleted DD-214, submit an SF-180 to the National Personnel Records Center (See Resources).