Separation from the Army under Paragraph 5-13: Personality Disorder

Written by Elliott Tomlinson (’17) – Wake Forest School of Law Veterans Legal Clinic Student Practitioner

Army Regulations 635-200, Paragraph 5-13 gives the Army the option to separate a soldier from military service based on a personality disorder. However, soldiers should be cautious and take the time to fully understand the implications of a separation under Paragraph 5-13. Although this may seem beneficial at the time, depending on each individual’s situation, this classification can have lasting residual effects that a soldier should be aware of.

Primarily service members should know that, if they are separated under this paragraph, it will be reflected on their DD-214 after discharge. The DD-214 will list the discharge as honorable unless an entry level separation is required.[1] However, the DD-214 will also list the separation authority as “AR 635-200, PARA 5-13” which a future employer, landlord, or anyone who reviews your DD-214 can look up to see this chapter is a separation for personality disorder. Also, the narrative reason for discharge shown on your DD-214 will be “Personality Disorder,” which may impact your chances of being hired or lead to more questions about your discharge.

Before separation proceedings may begin under this paragraph, a soldier must be formally counseled about the identified deficiencies and given an opportunity to overcome the deficiencies.[2] A soldier must also be advised that this diagnosis of a personality disorder does not qualify as a disability. Given this mandatory counseling requirement, a soldier being separated under this Paragraph should use this opportunity to clarify any questions.

How does a separation under this Paragraph work?

            Under Paragraph 5-13 a soldier who has less than 24 months active duty service as of the date separation proceedings are initiated, may be separated for a personality disorder. A qualifying personality disorder is one that “is a deeply ingrained maladaptive pattern of behavior of long duration that interferes with the Soldier’s ability to perform duty.”[3] It is classified as an inability to adapt to the military environment and not an inability or an inability to perform job specific tasks or requirements. Given the nature of this classification, the regulations call for documentation of behavior of specific deficiencies in the soldier’s personnel or counseling records. The regulations refer to this classification as a “diagnosis” which must be “established by a psychiatrist or doctoral-level clinical psychologist with necessary and appropriate” credentials.[4]

If you are serving or have served in an imminent danger pay area and have less than 24 months of active duty service at the time separation proceedings are initiated, then there are additional requirements to be separated under this paragraph. First, the diagnosis of personality disorder under this section must be corroborated by the MTF Chief of Behavioral Health. His or her decision is then forwarded for confirmation by the Director, Prepotency of Behavioral Health, Office of the Surgeon General. The regulations specifically require the diagnosing psychiatrist to consider “whether PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and/or other combined mental illness may be significant contributing factors to the diagnosis.”[5] If any of these are significant factors to a diagnosis of personality disorder, the soldier cannot be processed for administrative separation but will be evaluated under the physical disability system.

If you were separated from service for a personality disorder, and you believe that the separation was unjust, or that the personality disorder was inaccurately referenced as the reason for your separation, please contact our office.

[1] AR 635-200, Paragraph 5-13(h)

[2] AR 635-200, Paragraph 5-13(e)

[3] AR 635-200, Paragraph 5-13(a)

[4] Id.

[5] Id.