There are a number of ways veterans, next-of-kin and authorized representatives can obtain a copy of the DD-214 form. The process to get a replacement DD Form 214 varies depending on a variety of factors including volume of requests, staffing, federal funding, and other variables.
The DD-214 is required to claim certain military benefits, college education discounts, veteran preference in hiring, VA Loans, medical benefits, association membership, a veteran’s funeral benefit, school enrollment, and many other things.
- Option 1: Request your copy online by visiting the National Archives Website
- Option 2: Mail the DD Form 214 request with Standard Form 180 (SF-180) to National Personnel Records Center, 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO 63138
- Request a copy from your losing unit’s orderly room or command support staff
- Get an electronic copy via the VA eBenefits 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 DD214 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 DD214 are created and distributed as follows:
- Member 1 Copy (short form) – Sent to the servicemember
- 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 servicemember (if requested, DD214 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 DD214 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 DD214 but need the short form, simply copy the 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 DD214, 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.
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 DD214 contains the information related to your eligibility to reenlist including reenlistment codes.
- VA Benefits: Separation/Discharge information on the DD214 is important for eligibility of VA benefits.
- Funeral, Burial, and Cremation Benefits: The appropriate discharge status on the DD214 determines certain funeral benefits and reimbursements.
- Identification: The DD214 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
- Military education
- Decorations, medals, badges, citations, campaign awards
- Last duty assignment and rank
- Overseas Service
- Combat Service
- Separation information
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.
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.