Replacement DD Form 214 and other Military Records
Veterans from around the Nation:
Don't lose your DD-214
The most important paper for a U.S. veteran is his or her DD-214 (Separation Paper). The Defense Department 214 is a condensed version of the vet's service record, including length of service, overseas service, training, medals, commendations and character of service.
The DD-214s are required proof of service for VA benefits and are also useful in obtaining non-VA services such as jobs, Social Security benefits, burial benefits and military funeral honors. If your discharge papers have been destroyed or lost, your local County Veterans' Service Officer can help you replace it using one or more of the following sources:
1. If you recorded your DD-214 at a county courthouse, it can be easily retrieved. The county recorder will give you a certified copy and there is no charge for vets to record or retrieve 214s. Recording your DD-214 is a good idea, however it does become a public record, which should not be a problem unless you have exaggerated your war record and your discharge does not square with that story. A fear lately among many veterans is the threat of identity theft, and the act of recording your DD-214 makes the information accessible to anyone. If your county does not have good control over access to these public records, or is making the records accessible over the internet, you may not want to record your military discharge and may want to leave a copy with your County Veterans Service Officer instead. Otherwise, you should record your discharge and keep a copy in a safe place.
2. Some DD-214s are in Indianapolis, at the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) or in the State Archives. If the state has the DD-214, your Service Office can usually receive copies of these in about two weeks.
3. If you ever filed a claim with the VA or ever applied for a VA Home Loan or for educational benefits from the VA, a copy of your DD-214 should be on file at the VA Regional Office in the state where you applied. Your Veterans' Service Officer can help you locate it.
4. Some County Veteran' Service Offices are now scanning military discharges into their computers for your convenience and can print you out a copy whenever you need it. If you ever filed a VA claim through a County Veterans' Service Office, there should be a copy of your discharge on file. Your Service Officer can call any county in any state to help your replace your DD-214.
5. Last resort is the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), in St. Louis. (See the article below.) To retrieve a copy from this source, a Standard Form (SF) 180 must be filled out. The SF180 can be obtained at any County Veterans Service Office. We now have an on-line application that seems to be speeding up the process, but it can still take 2-6 weeks. A DD-214 cannot be found without a Social Security number, correct name spelling, date of birth, and month and year of separation from service. The NPRC has 55 million files in their archives, but these are paper files in cardboard boxes and it takes time to retrieve them.
6. National Guard separation papers, NGB-22s, may be obtained through Stout Field at Indianapolis.
Indiana's County Veterans' Service Officers advise that you not wait until you have an immediate need for your DD-214. If you don't have a copy, contact your nearest County Veterans' Service Office. Most offices can be found in the telephone book under County Government, or you can find the details on your county's office by visiting the web site of the Indiana Veterans' Service Officer's Association and click on the County Service Officers link at http://invsoa.homestead.com.
Note: Thanks to Delaware County VSO, Jerry Griffis, for allowing us to use his original article as the basis for this one.
Getting a Copy of Your Military Records
The National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR), in St. Louis, MO, is the repository of millions of military personnel, health, and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans of all services during the 20th century.
The NPRC (MPR) and other Centers also store medical treatment records of retirees from all services, as well as records for dependent and other persons treated at naval medical facilities. Copies of most military and medical records, including the DD Form 214, Report of Separation (or equivalent), can be made available upon request.Veterans and "Next of Kin": Veterans and next-of-kin of deceased veterans have the same rights to full access to the record. Next-of-kin are the unremarried widow or widower, son or daughter, father or mother, brother or sister of the deceased veteran. See below for the appropriate address.
Autorized Representatives: Authorized third party requesters, e.g., lawyers, doctors, historians, etc., may submit requests for information from individual records with the veteran's (or next of kin's, for deceased veterans) signed and dated authorization. If you use a signed authorization, it should include exactly what you are authorizing to be released to the third party. Authorizations are valid one year from date of signature.
General Public: The general public can also request some parts of a veteran's military record without the authorization of the veteran or next of kin. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act provide balance between the right of the public to obtain information from military service records, and the right of the former military service member to protect his/her privacy. In general, information available from military service records which can be released without violation of the Privacy Act are: Name, Service Number (not Social Security Number), Rank, Dates of Service, Awards and Decorations, and Place of Entrance and Separation. If the veteran is deceased, the Place of Birth, Date of Death, Geographical Location of Death, and Place of Burial can also be released.
Note: In Indiana these records are no longer available to the general public. Indiana Code (IC )10-17-2-4 spells out who is authorized to obtain this information:
Person to whom a discharge record may be released; record maintained in separate, confidential, and secure file
Sec. 4. (b) A discharge record is not a public record under IC 5-14-3. A county recorder may provide a certified copy of a discharge record only to the following persons:
(1) The veteran who is the subject of the discharge record if the veteran provides photographic identification.
(2) A person who provides photographic identification that identifies the person as a county or city service officer.
(3) A person who provides photographic identification that identifies the person as an employee of the Indiana department of veterans' affairs.
(4) A person who:
(A) is a funeral director licensed under IC 25-15; and
(B) assists with the burial of the veteran who is the subject of the discharge record; if the person provides photographic identification and the person's funeral director license.
(5) If the veteran who is the subject of the discharge record is deceased, the spouse or next of kin of the deceased, if the spouse or next of kin provides photographic identification and a copy of the veteran's death certificate.
(6) The following persons under a court order, if the person provides photographic identification and a certified copy of the court order:
(A) The attorney in fact of the person who is the subject of the discharge record.
(B) The guardian of the person who is the subject of the discharge record.
(C) If the person who is the subject of the discharge record is deceased, the personal representative of the estate of the deceased.
(c) To the extent technologically feasible, a county recorder shall take precautions to prevent the disclosure of a discharge record filed with the county recorder before May 15, 2007. After May 14, 2007, a county recorder shall ensure that a discharge record filed with the county recorder is maintained in a separate, confidential, and secure file.
Court Order: Access to military personnel and medical records on file at the National Personnel Records Center and other Centers, may also be gained pursuant "to the order of a court of competent jurisdiction." Subpoenas qualify as orders of a court of competent jurisdiction only if they have been signed by a judge. To be valid, court orders must also be signed by a judge. Authority for these requirements is 5 U.S.C. 552a(b) (11), as interpreted by Doe vs. DiGenova, 779 F. 2d 74 (D.C. Cir. 1985), and Stiles vs. Atlanta Gas and Light Company, 453 F. Supp. 798 (N.D. Ga.1978).
The records stored at the National Personnel Records Center cover military personnel who were discharged between the below-listed dates:
Air Force Officers and Enlisted -- after September 25, 1947
Army Officers separated between July 1, 1917 and October 2002 (see below)
Army Enlisted separated between November 1, 1912 and October 2002 (see below)
Navy Officers separated between January 1, 1903 and the end of 1994 (see below)
Navy Enlisted separated between January 1, 1886 and the end of 1994 (see below)
Marine Corps Officers and Enlisted separated between January 1, 1905 and Jan. 2002 (see below)
Coast Guard Officers and Enlisted separated after January 1, 1898
Military personnel records for individuals separated before these dates are on file at the National Archives and Records Administration, Old Military and Civil Records Branch (NWCTB), Washington, DC 20408. E-mail address: email@example.com.
Federal law (5 USC 552a(b)) requires that all requests for records and information be submitted in writing. The easiest way to do this is by using Standard Form (SF) 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records.
Requesting Copies of Military Records (Including DD Form 214/215)
Requests must contain enough information to identify the record among the more than 70 million on file at the appropriate Center. The Center needs certain basic information in order to locate military service records. This information includes the veteran's complete name used while in service, service number or social security number, branch of service, and dates of service. Date and place of birth may also be helpful, especially if the service number is not known. If the request pertains to a record that may have been involved in the 1973 fire, also include place of discharge, last unit of assignment, and place of entry into the service, if known.
The SF 180, although not mandatory, is the recommended method to send a request for military service information. This form captures all the necessary information to locate a record. Provide as much information on the form as possible and send copies of any service documents that you may have.
Requests may also be submitted as a letter, containing the basic information listed above. For those records at the National Personnel Records Center, mail the completed SF 180 to:
(Military Personnel Records)
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63132-5100
The US Navy stopped retiring personnel records to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) approximately in 1995. Navy veterans who received a FINAL discharge or were retired AFTER 1994, any request for personnel related information (i.e. DD 214, copy of personnel record, etc;) should be forwarded to the following address. A final discharge means either being discharged from active duty (not being released from active duty with inactive Naval Reserve service to complete) or being discharged from the US Naval Reserve:
Bureau of Naval Personnel
ATTN: PERS 312-D
5720 Integrity Drive
Millington, TN 38055-3130
The US Marine Corps stopped retiring personnel records to NPRC in January 2002. As in the case of Navy personnel, any Marine Corps personnel discharged or retired AFTER January 2002 should forward requests to the following address:
Headquarters, US Marine Corps
2008 Elliott Road, Suite 225
Quantico, VA 22134-5030
The US Army stopped retiring personnel records to NPRC in October 2002 All Regular Army, Army Reserve, and RETIRED Army National Guard personnel discharged or retired AFTER October 2002 should forward any requests for personnel related information to the following address:
US Army Human Resources Command-St. Louis
1 Reserve Way
St. Louis, MO 63132-5200
Army National Guard personnel, regardless of when they were discharged, should contact the State Adjutant General's Office of the State in which they served, although the Federal portion of their Army National Guard service should be on file at NPRC.
The US Air Force (to include Air National Guard personnel) and the US Coast Guard continue to retire their personnel records to NPRC.
Military Medical Records:
The military service departments no longer retire service medical records (SMR's-military medical records) to NPRC. Listed below are the dates each service department stopped retiring SMR's to NPRC:
Army: October 16, 1992
Navy: January 31, 1994
Air Force: May 1, 1994
Marine Corps: May 1, 1994
Coast Guard: April 1, 1998
SMR's DO NOT include military hospital records. Those types of records are retired to NPRC usually 5 years AFTER the date of last treatment.
In order for NPRC to conduct a search of military hospital records (also known as clinical records), NPRC requires the following information:
date of treatment;
type of treatment;
place of treatment;
whether or not the patient was hospitalized; and
any other pertinent information that can be provided that will help or assist in finding the
information that you are seeking.
Military Dependents Medical Records:
NPRC also maintains military dependent treatment records. In order to search for those records, they require the same information as if the request were for a military member treated at a military hospital.
NPRC maintains those dependent treatment records at two separate locations:
For Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force dependents treated at a Naval Hospital, submit request to:
National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
ATTN: Organizational Records Unit
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63132-5100
For Army, Air Force, Navy or Marine Corps dependents treated at either an Army or Air Force Hospital, submit your request to the following address:
National Personnel Records Center
Civilian Personnel Records
St. Louis, MO 63118
Completing a Records Request On-line
Veterans and "Next-of-Kin" can now complete a records request on-line. One must still print out and sign a sign a sigature verification, and mail or fax the verification, because Federal Law requires a signature on all records request. However, completing the application online can be easier and faster than completing the SF Form 180.Those who are not veterans or next-of-kin, cannot use the on-line system. They must complete the SF 180.Requesting Copies of Military Medical Records
Veterans who plan to file a claim for medical benefits with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) do not need to request a copy of their military health record from the National Personnel Records Center. When you file a VA claim, the Department of Veterans Affairs will request the record automatically, as part of the claims process.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.
How Long Does it Take?
It wasn't all that long ago when turnaround time for military records was miserable. It was not unusual for a simple DD Form 214/215 request to take up to 180 days.NPRC has transformed the way it responds to inquiries, to provide dramatically improved customer service. This Business Process Reengineering project has changed structures and systems that in some cases have been in place since the center was formed 40 years ago. As a test, I requested a copy of my DD Form 214 in December 2003, using the on-line system. I was pleasantly surprised to receive my DD Form 214 copy in just 18 days from the date of my request.However, the folks at NPRC are still busy animals. They process nearly 20,000 requests per week. Turnaround times for records requested from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) vary greatly depending on the nature of the request. For example, requests that involve reconstruction efforts due to the 1973 fire may take much longer.
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