DESCRIPTION: A DD Form 214 is required for employment consideration. If you do not have a copy, this article will help you through the request process.
Request a copy from your losing unit’s orderly room or command support staff
Get an electronic copy via the VA site
Fax a DD Form 214 request with Standard Form 180 (SF-180) to NPRC (314) 801-9049
It is important that all information is filled out correctly and that all paper forms are printed, signed and dated in order to expedite the process and prevent any delays.
The NPRC receives thousands of requests per day which can account for a lengthy response time. However, the website states that the majority of requests are responded to in just ten days. Unfortunately, for older records that involve reconstruction efforts due to the 1973 fire at NPRC, the wait time may be 6 months or longer due to extensive search requirements.
Once you obtain your official copy of the DD-214 make sure it is stored alongside other critical documentation such as your birth certificate and social security card in a safety deposit box or fire proof case in your home.
Important Notes About Requesting A DD Form 214
Those who are unable to access SF-180 online can obtain the form by contacting the National Personnel Records Center, Department of Defense, Federal Information Centers, Veteran Administration Offices or Veterans Service Organizations.
Expedited DD-214 service is available via third party companies who will make the request for a certified DD-214 copy in-person and send the certified copy via express mail. These companies can complete the request in as fast as a few days instead of weeks. Simply Google “DD-214 expedited service” for these companies.
Upon separation eight copies of the DD-214 are created and distributed as follows:
Member 1 Copy (short form) – Sent to the service member
Service 2 Copy (long form) – Sent to the military service (service member’s records)
Copy 3 – Sent to the VA
Member 4 Copy (long form) – Sent to the service member (if requested, DD-214 Box 30)
Copy 5 – Sent to the Department of Labor (DOL)
Copy 6 – Sent to the appropriate state VA office (if requested)
Copy 7 – Used in accordance with the appropriate service regulations
Copy 8 – Used in accordance with the appropriate service regulations
Copies 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 have blocks 25 (separation authority), 26 (separation code), and 27 (reentry code) redacted. These copies are also known as the short form.
Difference Between Long vs. Short DD214 Discharge Forms
There are two versions of the DD-214 issued by the government
Short form (aka the deleted Form of Separation or edited Form of Separation)
Long form (aka the undeleted Form of Separation) - The long form contains information about the service member’s character of discharge which could include information regarding the circumstances surrounding a discharge in a positive or negative light. Government Agencies and employers often ask for the long form because discharge status is relevant.
Quick Tip: If you only have a long form DD-214 but need the short form, simply copy the undeleted long form without the bottom 1.5 inches (blocks 23-29).
Difference Between Member 4 Copy and Service 2 Copy
None! Both these forms are identical long form copies and contain all of 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, the Service 2 Copy is what will be provided. A Service 2 Copy should be equally acceptable when proof of service is required. It is not unheard of, even for the VA, to ask for a Member 4 Copy instead of a Service 2 Copy. The Service 2 Copy has the full legal force and effect as the original Member 4.
Electronic DD Form 214 Proposal
At the time of this writing, paper copies of DD Form 214 and Guard/Reserve equivalent paperwork is still required to be issued and provided-or an electronic version of the original paperwork-in order to get services and benefits. But the Department of Defense is examining options for an all-electronic version of the DD Form 214. The DoD commissioned the Rand Corporation to study the DD 214 process, and the results of that study favor an electronic version of the retirement/separation document.
At the time of this writing, a move to bring the DD Form 214 online and fully electronic is projected for the year 2024, so those who currently require paper versions of the document should not anticipate an immediate change.
According to some sources, the proposed move to an all-electronic version of this paperwork would be the first major revision to military discharge paperwork since the 1950s.
How to Get a DD-214 for a Deceased Relative
If a veteran is deceased, the surviving next-of-kin may request a copy of the DD-214 using the online order form that can be filled out on the National Archives Website. The form must bear the signature of the next of kin and mailed in along with any other required documents.
Below are the step-by-step instructions on how to obtain a deceased relative’s DD-214:
Go to the National Archives Website and click on the blue box labeled “Start Form Online” under “Looking For? DD-214/Separation Documents.” It will bring you to a pop-up window with the Privacy Act of 1974 Compliance Information. Press Continue.
Fill out the three drop boxes accordingly. You must be the legal 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. Press Continue.
You will then be asked to 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.
The next-of-kin must show proof of death of the veteran. Examples include a copy of the death certificate, a letter from the funeral home or a published obituary.
Be sure to fill out the answers accurately. Continue to click on continue until the form asks you what type of documents you are requesting and type in “DD-214.”
Print out the form. Then, sign and date in the verification section.
Mail the signed and dated form with your return address to:
National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
9700 Page Ave.
St. Louis, Missouri, 63132-5100.
Alternatively, you can fax it to the National Personnel Records Center at (314) 801-9195.
Purpose of Form DD-214
Employment: Future employers might want to know about the status related to your military discharge. For example, certain private and government employers and private contractors for government agencies may not be able to hire someone who was dishonorably discharged.
Reenlisting: The DD-214 contains the information related to your eligibility to reenlist including reenlistment codes.
VA Benefits: Separation/Discharge information on the DD-214 is important for eligibility of 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.
About DD Form 214
The DD Form 214 is a complete and thorough document that verifies a service member’s proof of military service. This Certificate of Release or Discharge form is issued through the Department of Defense and is typically issued at the final out processing appointment prior to retirement or separation.
The DD-214 document contains information required to verify the veteran’s time in service. Therefore, it is considered a vital piece of documentation since it is needed in order to obtain necessities such as benefits and retirement.
The information found on the form can also be used for the veteran’s future employment, membership in veteran organizations, or a proof of service for businesses offering military discounts. It gives good insight into the veteran and his/her work history since it includes among other things, the service member’s:
Date and place of entry into active duty
Home address at time of entry
Military job specialty
Decorations, medals, badges, citations, campaign awards
Last duty assignment and rank
The form also provides a condition of discharge for the service member. For example, the veteran may be given a status of honorable, general, other than honorable or bad conduct which may be helpful to a potential employer or lender.
Additionally, the DD-214 can also be used to gain access to an abundance of other benefits including home loans, GI benefits, funeral/cemetery accommodations and veteran affairs health care.
The veteran will also need the form in order to enlist in the National Guard or Reserves.
This is why it is crucial for every veteran to secure their DD-214 form in a safe place so that they may gain quick access to it when the situation arises. If the form gets lost or misplaced, the service member or next of kin can request a copy through the National Personnel Records Center at the National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri.