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AGO 1950 No. 342 - September 27, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

ELIGIBILITY FOR ADMISSION TO STATE SOLDIERS' HOME

A veteran who has served honorably in the service of the United States in one of its wars but whose last enlistment ends in dishonorable discharge is not eligible for admission to the State Soldiers' Home at Orting.

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                                                              September 27, 1950

Honorable H. D. Van Eaton
Director
Department of Public Institutions
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 342

Attention:  Van R. Hinkle, Supervisor

Dear Sir:

            We have your request of September 9, 1950, for an opinion on the following question:

            "May a resident veteran who has served honorably in the service of the United States in one of its wars, but whose peacetime enlistment ends in a dishonorable discharge, be eligible for admission to the State Soldiers' Home at Orting?"

            Our conclusion may be stated as follows: Such a veteran is not eligible for admission to the State Soldiers' Home at Orting.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Chapter 106, section 1, Laws of 1915 (Rem. Rev. Stat. 10729) provides:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "All honorably discharged soldiers, sailors and marines who have served the United States government in any of its wars, and members of the state militia disabled while in the line of duty, may be admitted to the State Soldiers' Home at Orting under such rules and regulations as may be adopted by the state board of control: Provided, that such applicants have been actual bona fide citizens of this state for a period of three years at the time of their application, and are indigent and unable to earn a support for themselves."

            We are of the opinion that the qualification "honorably discharged" has reference to the status of a service man upon separation from the Armed Forces at the expiration of his last term of service.  InU. S. v. Kelly, 15 Wall. 34, 21 L.Ed. 106, the court held that an honorable discharge was a formal, final judgment passed by the government upon the entire military record of the soldier.  This rule has been cited with approval in Ex parte Drainer, 65 Fed. Supp. 410, in Parker v. Anderson, 25 Atl. (2d) 41, 112 Vt. 371, and in Zearing v. Johnson, 52 P. (2d) 1019, 10 Cal. App. (2d) 654.  In the instant situation the applicant for admission to the State Soldiers' Home served honorably during part of the period of World War I.  During subsequent enlistment periods he was found guilty of desertion and was dishonorably discharged on September 16, 1922.

            Clearly, any discharge prior to the applicant's last period of enlistment could not be a final judgment upon his entire military record.  We are aware of no reason why a dishonorable discharge is any less a formal, final judgment than an honorable discharge, if given after the veteran's service has been completed.  After that military service was completed, a discharge, whether honorable or dishonorable, was a final judgment on his entire military record.

            Accordingly, we hold that a resident veteran who served honorably during World War I, but whose final peacetime enlistment ended in a dishonorable discharge is not eligible for admission to the State Soldiers' Home at Orting.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

LAWRENCE K. McDONELL
Assistant Attorney General

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