VA Loan & DD214Updated: January 3, 2023
Getting a VA Loan often requires supplying a DD Form 214, Report of Discharge, which serves as official proof of military service and verifies the nature of the veteran’s military discharge (Honorable, Dishonorable, etc.).
When applying for a VA home loan, the borrower will have two sets of requirements to fulfil; the VA loan program’s regulations and the lender’s standards. In some cases the two are identical, in others you may need to provide materials to the lender the VA loan program doesn’t specifically require.
Much depends on individual circumstances but in general be prepared to show all official paperwork (no originals–copies only) associated with establishing you as a current or former service member. Guard and Reserve members may have multiple forms to provide where active duty troops have only one–you’ll need to ask your participating VA lender what is required at application time.
How does the DD 214 help service members use their VA home loan benefits? Is a DD 214 always required to claim VA mortgage benefits? We’ll provide answers below.
The VA Home Loan Benefit
VA home loans are offered to military members who serve a minimum amount of qualifying active duty time. These loans are offered to currently serving troops, veterans, and certain surviving spouses of military members who have died as a result of military service. VA home loan minimum time-in-service requirements will vary depending on when you joined the military.
For most troops who have joined since 9/11, the following criteria may apply for VA loan eligibility:
- You have served 90 consecutive days of active service during wartime, OR
- You have served 181 days of active service during peacetime, OR
- You have 6 years of service in the National Guard or Reserves, OR
- You are the spouse of a service member who has died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-related disability.
Applying for the VA home loan benefit means three things: it means filling out VA form 26-1880 to request a VA Certificate of Eligibility (you can do this on your own (mail or online) or have a participating lender help you), it means finding a lender who participates in the VA home loan program and applying, and it means furnishing proof of military service.
The VA Certificate of Eligibility tells the lender you do indeed qualify for the program and how much VA loan entitlement you have.
The proof of military service is separate from the Certificate of Entitlement and the DD 214 may be used to meet that requirement. However, not all VA home loan applicants have a DD 214.
The DD Form 214 And Its Equivalents
The DD 214 helps retired or separated military members provide proof of military service. It is accepted by the Department of Veterans Affairs, DoD agencies in general, and by the VA home loan program and participating lenders. The DD 214 explains the nature of your military discharge, how long you served, the branch of service and your career field or MOS, etc.
The DD Form 214 is provided as part of your final out processing appointments and is a very important document. All recipients of this form should make both digital and paper copies of this record and store them in multiple safe places for best results. DD 214s are for active duty troops–Guard and Reserve documents are different as we’ll see below.
DD 214 Is Not The Only Document Accepted Or Required
The DD Form 214 is a document for those retiring or separating. Currently serving military members will not have a DD 214 to provide, nor are they entitled to one. Those who want to apply for a VA home loan who still serve must furnish a statement of military service, signed by a commander or designated alternate, showing the service member is in good standing, shows how much military service commitment remains on the current contract, and how long the member has been in uniform.
Those who have retired or separated from Guard or Reserve units may have official retirement or separation documents equivalent to a DD Form 214; these documents (such as the Guard’s NGB Form 22) will be required by the lender in the same manner as the active duty forms.
Replacement DD 214s
Getting a replacement DD 214 is possible but requires more time than you might think to apply for and receive.
You should immediately try to get a replacement through the VA eBenefits online portal or mail an SF-180 (Request Pertaining to Military Records) to the address for the records center listed on that form. Contact the Department of Veterans Affairs for information on completing the SF-180. It can take up to eight weeks or more to get a replacement DD 214 or equivalent. Be prepared for this long wait time.
For Surviving Spouses
Those who are spouses of military members who died as a result of military service may be eligible for VA home loan benefits. To claim VA loan benefits in these cases, VA Form 26-1817 is required, but it is a very good idea to include the servicemember’s DD Form 214 where applicable. This can speed up the approval process.
Can I Get A VA Home Loan Without A DD Form 214?
There are many circumstances where a DD Form 214 is not required–as mentioned above, those who have not retired or separated will not have one to show, and some applicants lose their DD 214s and need to have them replaced.
But what about situations where the borrower has already received their VA Certificate of Eligibility? Depending on circumstance, the applicant may be allowed to show a copy of the most recent set of military orders as proof of service (a permissive TDY for house hunting may suffice) or the lender may accept a written statement similar to those submitted by currently serving military members.
Some of those issues are situational, others require the same steps be taken every time. The most important thing to remember about these paperwork requirements is that the lender must know several things about the VA loan applicant:
- What was the duration of military service?
- Will the applicant remain in uniform for up to three years (or other duration as established in current rules or lender requirements) after loan closing?
- Whether the applicant’s income will continue to be stable and reliable (see above) regardless of military service commitment.
- If the applicant is no longer in the military, what was the nature of the military discharge?
- If the applicant is still in uniform, are they in good standing?
These questions and others like them can be answered with military orders, records and other documentation. If the specific availability of a DD 214 is in question, ask the lender what alternatives may be possible to identify yourself as an eligible VA loan applicant.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News