As a veteran, one of the most critical documents you need post-service is your DD form 214. Your DD Form 214 functions as proof that you were part of the military. Obtaining your DD 214 is essential to receiving the military benefits and services you’re entitled to. Without your DD form 214, it can be challenging to get disability compensation or home loans. Moreover, you’ll need this document if you plan to reenlist in the military.
Given how significant your DD form 214 is to your life as a military veteran, you should always ensure you have a copy ready. You can obtain free copies of this form from the military, which is why most veterans have multiple copies of their DD Form 214 for various reasons.
- 1 What Is the Purpose of a DD214 Form?
- 2 Why Should You Always Have a Copy of Your DD Form 214?
- 3 How to Get a Copy of DD214: Different Methods
- 4 Alternative Options and Resources
- 5 How to Check on the Status of Your Request
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 FAQs
What Is the Purpose of a DD214 Form?
Also called the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, a DD Form 214 is an official document issued by the Department of Defense. This document is given to a service member upon their retirement, separation, or discharge from military service—all military branches of the Armed Forces of the United States issue this same form. Thus, you can obtain a DD 214 if you are from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or National Guard.
Your DD 214 serves as your military service record after your stint in military service. It is an official document that proves that you have served and are entitled to military benefits and services. Your military service records provide a general overview of your tenure in the military. It contains pertinent details that can help you unlock all the veteran benefits that make signing up for the military so enticing.
Your official military personnel file contains vital information, including the following:
- Complete name upon entry into service
- Military department, component, and branch
- Social security number
- Military grade, rate, or rank
- Pay grade or salary
- Date of birth
- Date and place of entry into service
- Home address upon entry into service
- Home address upon separation from the military
- Last duty assignment and major command
- The military station where you separated
- Military education
- Decorations and accolades received while in service
- Total creditable service
- Foreign service credited
- Separation information (including date and type of separation, the character of service, authority and the reason behind the separation, and separation and reenlistment eligibility codes)
Why Should You Always Have a Copy of Your DD Form 214?
Rendering military service allows you access to plenty of benefits. Veterans status with a clean record can help you pay for your federal student loans. There might even be a chance that the military will shoulder your college education costs.
Your DD 214 is essential in receiving free healthcare granted to veterans. Considering how expensive healthcare is nowadays, this particular benefit can save lives. Moreover, your family members might be able to profit from this military benefit.
With your DD 214, you can obtain a VA home loan. This home loan allows veterans to buy, build, retain, or adapt a home for themselves and their families. Private lenders provide more favorable terms to veterans as long as they present their military service records. Thus, your DD 214 can help you find a new home. The VA home loan is a lifetime benefit that you can use several times, but you must show proof to obtain this particular benefit.
Your DD Form 214 can also be helpful in employment opportunities. Your military records make it easier for you to apply for government agencies. Plus, they show that you’re eligible for various jobs, including jobs in security.
How to Get a Copy of DD214: Different Methods
There are different ways to get a copy of your DD 214. You can request a copy online through official government channels, snail mail, fax, visiting government offices, or hiring a private researcher. Getting a copy of your DD 214 is a free service provided you are in the continental US.
Military records are not available for viewing online. However, you can request military service records through different online channels. Most veterans ask the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) for a DD 214 copy. The National Personnel Records Center is the official repository of all military records, medical records, and other official military personnel files.
You can easily submit a request for military records if you are the veteran whose file you request for or their next of kin. You can request military records from vetrecs.archives.gov. You can also access the milConnect website for the government to process your submission. You don’t have to pay a fee to request records, so you should take advantage of this service and ensure you have multiple copies.
How do you submit a request pertaining to military records from the Vetrecs website? Follow these steps:
- Choose the Make a New Request option on the first page.
- Specify if you are a veteran, their next of kin or others. Indicate if your search is for current or former military personnel.
- Share the veteran’s branch of service, service component and specify if they were an Officer or Enlisted in the Veterans Service Details tab. You’ll be asked for the purpose of the request as well.
- Specify which military document you need in the Documents Requested tab.
- Share your name and contact details in the Requester Information tab.
- Review all the information, and click Submit.
To request a copy through the milConnect website, you should follow these step-by-step instructions:
- Tap the Correspondence/Documentation option once you sign in. Choose Defense Personnel Infomation (DPPI) in the drop-down menu.
- Select the Personnel File tab and then the Request My Personnel File option.
- Share all the information asked. Specify that you need a DD Form 214 in the Document Index section.
- Tap the Create and Send Request button to process your request.
If you want your request for military records to be successful, you should ensure that all information you share is correct. Inaccurate data may result in your request being delayed or, worse, denied. If you’re filling up a form on behalf of a veteran, you should interview them thoroughly to obtain all the pertinent information needed.
Mail or Fax Requests
You can also send a request via mail or fax to the National Personnel Records Center for a copy of the DD Form 214. Here’s the official mailing address of the NPRC for your easy reference:
National Personnel Records Center
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138
All fax requests can be sent to their official number: 314-801-9195.
You can submit requests via mail or fax using Standard Form 180 or write a request letter. Aside from the NPRC, you can get an SF-180 from the Department of Defense, the Federal Records Center program, local Veterans Administration offices, or veterans service organizations.
If you’re submitting a request through a letter, the letter should contain enough pertinent information to locate military personnel’s file accordingly. Aside from the full name of the veteran, you should include the following information in our request:
- Social security or service number
- Branch of military service
- Entry and discharge dates of service
- Birthplace and date
- Entry and discharge place
- Most recent duty assignment place
Please note that you can only request one veteran at a time per form. However, you can submit requests for multiple veterans in a single envelope. Moreover, you can photocopy the SF-180 if needed. Every request should be signed and dated, too.
If you’re located near the NPRC, you can have your request processed in person. You can also visit nearby military installations or veterans service centers. If you’re going to a nearby office, you should present enough information that proves you were part of the military.
Every office has its requirements for in-person requests. If you wish to visit the NPRC office, contact the NPRC customer service line first. Their number is 314-801-0800.
Alternative Options and Resources
Veterans Service Organization
You can also get assistance from Veterans Service organizations like Disabled American Veterans, the National Association of Black Veterans, or Amvets. These organizations have the resources to help you obtain your DD 214.
State and County Veterans Affairs Offices
State and county Veterans Affairs offices can also help you obtain your DD Form 214. These offices contain the files of veterans who were stationed in their vicinity. Requesting a copy from the place where you were discharged would be ideal.
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
The National Archives and Records Administration is in charge of the preservation and documentation of government and historical records. Their website contains vital information to help you process your request. You may also seek help from Military Verification to confirm a veteran’s military service. They have the resources to locate official military personnel files.
How to Check on the Status of Your Request
If you’re requesting a copy of your DD Form 214, both official government websites allow you to track your request status. However, you should have your request number on hand. You can contact the appropriate office for assistance by sending the request via fax or mail.
Obtaining a copy of DD Form 214 is relatively easy if you have all the required information. Considering how vital this document is, you should always have copies.
Need to confirm whether someone is currently serving on active duty? Feel free to contact Military Verification for further assistance!
What is the meaning of DD214?
DD 214 means Department of Defense 214—this form is proof of one’s military service. This is given to a service member upon discharge or retirement from service.
What are the separation codes for DD214?
These are the separation codes:
- 1 – Honorable or Under Honorable conditions
- 2 – General Under Honorable conditions
- 3 – Other Than Honorable (OTH)
- 4 – Bad Conduct (BCD)
- 5 – Dishonorable (DD)
- 6 – Entry Level (ELS) or Non-characterized
Do you always get a DD-214?
It depends. All information you share must be correct to get a copy.
Can I still access the file if I’m not a veteran or next of kin?
Yes. However, you will only obtain limited information about the veteran. Only authorized representatives can request a copy.