How Do You Get a DD214 – Steps to Obtain Your Military Service Records?

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Obtaining your military service records, specifically your DD214, is an important and often overlooked task for veterans. When I left the military, I was unsure of the steps to take in order to obtain this crucial document. Fortunately, through research and personal experience, I have learned the necessary steps to obtain your DD214 and why it is critical to possess this document. From the application process to potential risks of not having your records readily available, I will thoroughly outline the process and importance of obtaining your military service records.

Key Takeaways:

  • Request Online: You can request your DD214 online through the National Archives website using eVetRecs or through the milConnect website.
  • Visit National Archives: If you prefer to submit a paper request form, you can visit the National Archives in person or mail in your request.
  • Wait Time: It can take several weeks to several months to receive your DD214, so be patient during the process.
  • Be Prepared: Have all necessary information on hand, such as your full name, service number, social security number, and dates of service.
  • Double-Check Information: Make sure all information on the DD214 is correct and complete, as any errors could cause issues later on when applying for veteran benefits or services.

Understanding the DD214

To obtain your DD214, it’s important to understand what this document is and why it is crucial for veterans. The DD214 is a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. It is issued to service members upon separation from the military and contains essential information about their service, including dates and locations of service, awards and decorations, and the character of service. This document is the key to accessing the benefits and services available to veterans.

What is a DD214?

The DD214 is a comprehensive summary of a service member’s military career. It is a vital document that verifies a veteran’s service and is required for a variety of benefits, including healthcare, education, and veteran’s preference for employment. The DD214 also includes information about any medals, awards, and training received during service, making it a valuable record for veterans.

Why is it important?

The DD214 is of utmost importance because it serves as proof of military service and is necessary to access the benefits earned through that service. Whether it’s applying for a home loan, seeking healthcare through the VA, or receiving veteran’s preference for a job, the DD214 is the document that opens the door to these opportunities. Without a DD214, you may not be able to prove your military service, and thus, may not have access to the benefits and services available to you as a veteran.

I hope this chapter provides clarity on the importance of the DD214 and why it’s critical to have a copy in your possession.

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Steps to Obtain Your DD214

Any military veteran can request their DD214 through the National Archives website. You will need to fill out Form SF-180 or Form SF-180 online. You can access the online application by visiting Request Military Service Records.

Requesting your DD214 online

If you choose to request your DD214 online, you will need to complete the online application and provide information such as your branch of service, dates of service, and social security number. It’s important to ensure that all information is accurate before submitting. The process is generally quick and convenient, with the records being delivered to you electronically.

Requesting your DD214 by mail

If you prefer to request your DD214 by mail, you will need to print and fill out Form SF-180 and mail it to the National Personnel Records Center. This method may take longer than the online option as it involves physical mail, but it is a viable alternative for those who are unable to access the internet or prefer traditional correspondence. Be sure to provide as much detail as possible to avoid delays.

Requesting your DD214 in person

For those who would like to request their DD214 in person, you can visit your nearest National Archives location. You will need to bring a valid form of identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, and any relevant military documents you may have. The staff will assist you in filling out the necessary forms and can provide guidance throughout the process. This option may offer a more personalized experience, but it’s important to check the operating hours and location details beforehand.

Important Information and Tips

Now that you know the steps to obtain your DD214, there are some important points and tips to keep in mind as you go through the process:

  • When requesting your military service records, make sure to provide as much identifying information as possible to expedite the search process.
  • It’s crucial to double-check all the information on your DD214 once you receive it to ensure accuracy. Any errors or discrepancies should be addressed immediately.
  • Knowing the significance of your DD214 and how it can affect your eligibility for certain veteran benefits is essential for planning your post-military life.

For additional resources and information, you can also visit the DD214 website. Welcome Veterans to the DD214 Website!

Required documents

When requesting your DD214, make sure to have your full name, social security number, branch of service, and approximate dates of service on hand. This will help the National Personnel Records Center locate your records more efficiently.

Processing time

The processing time for obtaining your DD214 may vary depending on the branch of service and the number of requests being processed. It’s important to plan ahead and submit your request well in advance if you have a specific deadline to meet.

Contact information for assistance

If you need assistance at any stage of the process, you can reach out to the National Personnel Records Center directly. They have a dedicated customer service team that can help answer any questions you may have about your DD214 request.

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To wrap up

When it comes to obtaining your DD214, it’s important to follow the necessary steps in order to access your military service records. By utilizing the online eVetRecs system or submitting a request through the mail, you can ensure that you have the documentation needed to verify your service and utilize the benefits you’ve earned. Remember to have patience through the process and be diligent in providing all the necessary information to avoid delays in receiving your DD214. Your military service records are an important piece of documentation, so make sure to keep them safe and accessible for future use.


Q: What is a DD214 and why is it important?

A: A DD214 is a certificate of release or discharge from active duty. It is important because it is the official documentation of a service member’s military service and is needed for various benefits and services, such as VA benefits, employment opportunities, and retirement benefits.

Q: How do I request a copy of my DD214?

A: You can request a copy of your DD214 through the National Archives website, by mail, or by fax. You will need to provide your full name, social security number, branch of service, dates of service, and any other pertinent information that may assist in locating your records.

Q: How long does it take to receive a copy of my DD214?

A: The processing time for a request varies depending on the method of request and the current volume of requests. It may take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to receive a copy of your DD214.

Q: Can someone else request a copy of my DD214 on my behalf?

A: Yes, someone else can request a copy of your DD214 on your behalf if you provide them with a signed authorization allowing them to do so. They will also need to provide their own identification and contact information.

Q: What should I do if I need my DD214 for immediate use?

A: If you need your DD214 for immediate use, such as for a job application or loan application, you can request expedited processing. Be prepared to provide documentation to support your request for expedited processing, such as a job offer or loan application deadline.

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