You will need a DD-214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, to claim certain military benefits, college education discounts, veteran preference in hiring, Department of Veterans Affairs loans, medical benefits, association membership, veteran’s funeral benefits, school enrollment and other benefits.
How to Get a Copy of Your DD-214
There are several ways veterans, family members and authorized representatives can obtain a copy of the DD-214 form:
- Submit a request through the milConnect website.
- Access your DD-214 through eBenefits.
- Request your copy online by visiting the National Archives website.
- Complete Standard Form 180 (SF-180) and submit it to the National Personnel Records Center in person, by mail or by fax.
National Personnel Records Center
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138
- Contact your state or county veterans agency.
To expedite mail-in form processing, make sure you print and fill it your SF-180 out completely, sign and date it where indicated.
Once you obtain your official copy of your DD-214, store it in a safety deposit box, a safe or a fireproof case in your home. Your DD-214 is as valuable as your birth certificate and social security card
How to Get a DD-214 for a Deceased Relative
If you need your family member’s DD-214 because you are planning their burial in a VA cemetery, call the VA’s national cemetery scheduling office at 800-535-1117 for assistance.
If you need a family member’s DD-214 to plan their burial in a VA cemetery, call the VA’s national cemetery scheduling office at 800-535-1117 for assistance.
Next of kin and authorized representatives can request a DD-214 copy from the National National Archives Website. Fill out and sign an SF-180, and submit it along with other required documents.
Below are the step-by-step instructions on how to obtain a DD-214 for a relative who has died:
- Go to the National Archives Website and click on the blue box labeled “Start Form Online” under “Looking for records? DD214/Separation Documents.” It will bring you to a pop-up window with the Privacy Act of 1974 compliance information and the Paperwork Reduction Act public burden statement. Click on “Make a new request.”
- Answer the two questions. You must be the legal representative or next-of-kin: parents (mom or dad), siblings, offspring or surviving unmarried spouse of the deceased. Press “Continue.”
- Fill out the veteran’s service details: branch of service, service component, enlisted or officer rank and the purpose of the request. If this is for burial, choose “emergency request” as the purpose. Press “Continue.”
- Fill out the veteran’s personal information such as full name, date of birth, place of birth, Social Security number, service number and approximate end date of service.
- As next of kin, you must submit proof of death of the veteran. Examples include a copy of the death certificate or a letter from the funeral home.
Alternatively, you can print out and complete form SF-180, “Request Pertaining to Military Records.” Then, sign and date it and mail or fax it and all necessary supporting documents to:
National Personnel Records Center
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138
Important Notes About Requesting A DD Form 214 Request
If you can’t access the SF-180 online, you can obtain it by contacting:
- National Personnel Records Center
- Department of Defense
- Federal Information Centers
- Local VA office
- A veterans service organization
The NPRC receives thousands of requests per day, which can account for a lengthy response time. The records of those service members discharged between 1912 and 1964 may have been destroyed in a 1973 fire at the NPRC. While they may be able to reconstruct the records, it will take time.
If your need is urgent, submit your request online and select “Emergency Request” from the drop-down menu under “Which of these categories best describes why you’re requesting the records. If you live in an area impacted by a natural disaster, you can receive priority treatment by adding “natural disaster” to the comments section online or in the purpose section of the SF-180.
You can also call the NPRC customer service line at 314-801-0800. Long-distance charges apply for most customers, and the hold time is often long.
The VA’s national cemetery scheduling office can help you if you are planning a veteran’s burial in a national cemetery. You can reach them at 800-535-1117.
When a service member separates from military service, eight copies of the DD-214 are created and distributed as follows:
- Copy 1, Member (original, short form) – Given to the service member.
- Service 2 Copy 2, Service – Retained by the military service branch.
- Copy 3, Veterans Administration – Sent to the VA.
- Copy 4, Member (long form) – Sent to the service member (if requested by initialing block 30 on the DD-214).
- Copy 5 – Sent to the Department of Labor (DOL)
- Copy 6 – Sent to the appropriate state VA office (if requested by checking “yes” in block 20).
- Copy 7 – Used following the appropriate service regulations.
- Copy 8 – Used following the appropriate service regulations.
Only copies 2, 4, 7 and 8 include information about the character of service, type of discharge and re-enlistment eligibility, such as blocks 25 (separation authority), 26 (separation code) and 27 (reentry code). These copies are also known as the long form.
Difference Between Long and Short DD-214 Discharge Forms
Service members receive two versions of the DD-214:
- Copy 1: Short form (aka the Deleted Form of Separation or Edited Form of Separation)
- Copy 4: Long form (aka the Undeleted Form of Separation)
The long form contains information about the service member’s character of discharge, including separation and re-entry codes. Government agencies and employers may ask for the long form when discharge status is relevant, such as for security clearances. You may also need the long form to access veterans’ benefits.
Difference Between Member 4 Copy and Service 2 Copy
Copies 2 and 4 are identical long-form copies of the DD-214 and contain all the necessary information to show proof of military service and honorable discharge. If a veteran needs to obtain a long-form copy of their DD-214, they will receive a Service 2 copy. A Service 2 copy should be equally acceptable when proof of service is required and has the full legal force and effect as the original Member 4 Copy.
Purpose of Form DD-214
- Employment: The DD-214 contains relevant employment information, including the service member’s military education, military job specialty and last duty assignment. Future employers may also want to know details of your military discharge. Some private and government employers and private contractors for government agencies may not be able to hire someone who was dishonorably discharged.
- Re-enlisting: The DD-214 contains the information related to your eligibility to reenlist including re-enlistment codes.
- VA benefits: Separation/discharge information on the DD214 is important to prove eligibility for VA benefits.
- Funeral, burial and cremation benefits: The appropriate discharge status on the DD-214 determines certain funeral benefits and reimbursements.
- Identification: The DD-214 is an acceptable form of military/veteran identification for many government and private organizations and businesses.
Danielle is a licensed professional counselor, a proud Air Force spouse and a grateful mother of three. She has served alongside her husband through his countless deployments, relocations and two squadron command positions. She greatly enjoys being a member of the community and is honored to support her fellow military spouses.