MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.
Respondent, a former captain in the Army, was honorably discharged for physical disability and without retirement pay, as the result of a decision by an Army Retiring Board. Respondent applied to the Army Disability Review Board for review of that action. The Review Board held that respondent was not entitled to retirement pay. Respondent, having requested a rehearing, was allowed to examine the record on which the rehearing would be based. He discovered that the record contained certain
The principal question relates to the provision in § 302 (a) of the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, 58 Stat. 287, 59 Stat. 623, 38 U. S. C. § 693i (a), which describes the scope of review by the Review Board as follows: "Such review shall be based upon all available service records relating to the officer requesting such review, and such other evidence as may be presented by such officer." Respondent contends that the term "service records" means the record of the service which the military man has rendered from the time of his entry into the service until his discharge. That was the view of the Court of Appeals. We, however, think otherwise.
Section 302 (a) grants the Review Board "the same powers as exercised by, or vested in, the board whose findings and decision are being reviewed." That board is the Retiring Board which R. S. § 1248, 10 U. S. C. § 963, says may "inquire into and determine the facts touching the nature and occasion of the disability of any officer who appears to be incapable of performing the duties of his office, and shall have such powers of a court-martial and of a court of inquiry as may be necessary for that purpose."
These powers of the Retiring Board have been given a wide reach, so that the nature and cause of the disability may be ascertained. Their broad character will not, of
The powers granted the Retiring Board have been construed by the regulations in a liberal fashion, not in a narrow and stifling way. Thus the Adjutant General is required to furnish the board with the "originals or certified copies of the complete medical history, and of all other official records affecting the health and physical condition of the officer."
The medical history following the retirement will often be of great importance to the Review Board, since the statute of limitations which governs review is a long one. Requests for review may be made within 15 years after the retirement or after June 22, 1944, whichever is the later. § 302 (b). Medical history may therefore be highly pertinent to the inquiry. Plainly the officer is granted authority under § 302 (a) to introduce such evidence; and it is certain he will do so if it is favorable. We hesitate at a construction of the statute which forecloses the Army from considering the evidence when it
The reports in issue were official government reports transmitted to the Army and incorporated in that department's files. They therefore became a part of the record of the officer pertaining to his service. We conclude that they are "service records" within the meaning of § 302 (a).