Getting a Copy of a DD-214 Military Service Record

Requesting US Military Records

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The DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, generally referred to as a "DD 214", is a document issued by the United States Department of Defense upon the retirement, separation or discharge from active duty of any service member who served in any branch of the U.S. Armed Services.

The DD 214 verifies and documents the former service member’s complete military service record during both active and reserve duty. It will list items such as awards and medals, rank/rate and pay grade held on active duty, total military combat service and/or overseas service, and various branch-specific specialties and qualifications held. Persons who serve exclusively in the Air National Guard or Army National Guard will receive a form NGB-22 from the National Guard Bureau, instead of a DD 214.

The DD 214 also includes codes describing the service members’ reason for discharge and their reenlistment eligibility. These are the Separation Designator/Separation Justification (abbreviated as SPD/SJC) Codes and Reenlistment Eligibility (RE) Codes.

Why the DD 214 Might Be Needed

The DD 214 is typically required by the Department of Veterans Affairs to grant veterans benefits. Private sector employers may also require job applicants to provide a DD 214 as proof of military service.

In addition, funeral directors typically require a DD 214 to show a deceased person’s eligibility for burial in a VA cemetery with provision of military honors. Since 2000, the families of all eligible veterans have been allowed to request honors including the presentation of a folded United States ceremonial burial flag and the sounding of Taps, at no cost.

Requesting a DD 214 Copy Online

There are currently two government sources where copies of a DD 214 on other military service records can be requested online:

  • The eVetRecs website maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration allows veterans or their next of kin to request copies of DD 214s and separation documents, as well as medical records, and replacement medals. Note that copies can be requested only by veterans or their next of kin defined as a surviving spouse that has not remarried, father, mother, son, daughter, sister, or brother.
  • The eBenefits veteran’s benefits web portal managed jointly by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the United States Department of Defense. The service allows veterans to review, and print documents from their official Military Personnel File, including their DD 214. eBenefits claims to provide electronic copies within 48 hours. However, in order to request a DD 214, the veteran must have an eBenefits Premium Account.

When requesting military records online via the eVetRecs service, certain basic information will be requested. This information includes:

  • The veteran's complete name used while in service
  • Service number
  • Social Security number
  • Branch of service
  • Dates of service
  • Date and place of birth (especially if the service number is not known).
  • If you suspect your records may have been destroyed in the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center, also include: Place of discharge, Last unit of assignment; and place of entry into the service, if known.

All requests must be signed and dated by the veteran or next-of-kin.

If you are the next of kin of a deceased veteran, you must provide proof of death of the veteran such as a copy of death certificate, letter from funeral home, or published obituary.

If You are Not a Veteran or Next of Kin

If you are not the veteran or next of kin, you must complete the Standard Form 180 (SF 180). You must then mail it or fax it to the appropriate address on the form.

The Defense Department issues to each veteran a DD-214, identifying the veteran's condition of discharge - honorable, general, other than honorable, dishonorable or bad conduct.

For complete instructions on how to apply for a copy of your DD-214, see Veterans' Service Records from the National Archives and Records Administration.

Be sure to download and complete BOTH SIDES of the SF-180. The back of the form contains important mailing addresses and instructions.

The Standard Form 180 is formatted for legal size paper (8.5" x 14"). Please print it that way if your printer can accommodate that. If your printer can only print on letter size paper (8.5" x 11"), select "shrink to fit" when the Adobe Acrobat Reader "Print" dialog box appears.

Costs and Response Time

"Generally there is no charge for military personnel and health record information provided to veterans, next-of-kin, and authorized representatives. If your request involves a service fee, you will be notified as soon as that determination is made. Response time varies dependent upon the complexity of your request, the availability of records, and our workload. Please do not send a follow-up request before 90 days have elapsed as it may cause further delays." -- National Archives and Records Administration

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Your Citation
Longley, Robert. "Getting a Copy of a DD-214 Military Service Record." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Longley, Robert. (2020, August 26). Getting a Copy of a DD-214 Military Service Record. Retrieved from Longley, Robert. "Getting a Copy of a DD-214 Military Service Record." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 21, 2021).