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Your DD Form 214 is your proof of military service. It shows the nature of your discharge, dates of service, and current classification (retired, separated, Guard or Reserve status).
When military members out-process as part of retirement or separation, getting the DD-214 is one of the last things to happen after the briefings, equipment turn-in, and other clearances required as part of the "final out."
The DD-214, otherwise known as a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, verifies proof of service. The DD-214 typically gets issued upon separation from service but can also be acquired online.
The DD 214 is one of the most important documents you'll get from your final out-processing appointment. You need it to claim most, if not all, of your military benefits, including VA loans, the GI Bill and medical services provided by the VA.
Many people misplace the DD-214 for one reason or another. The stress of relocating from an overseas assignment back to civilian life is one common cause. Still, no matter what the reason for your misplaced DD-214, keep in mind it's entirely possible to get a copy.
When applying for a VA loan, your lender typically needs your DD-214 to obtain your Certificate of Eligibility.
If you've lost or misplaced your DD-214, you can typically get another. The easiest way to get a copy of your DD-214 is utilizing the Government's National Archives website here.
If you can't access it online, another option is writing to the National Personnel Records Center. Enclose a completed form SF-180 along with a letter stating the reason for your request, your name, rank and social security number.
If you are a recently discharged military member who separated or retired at an overseas location, remember that your DD-214 form may be delayed overseas for up to a year before it becomes part of the National Record Center archives. If this is the case, you contact the orderly room, First Sergeant or Sergeant Major in charge of where you separated or retired, and request a copy directly from your final base.
To get your DD-214 online, you must be the service member or next of kin and have access to the Veteran's social security number, the branch of service, dates of military service, place of discharge and potentially other vital information.
If you're filing on behalf of a deceased Veteran, you must provide proof of death in the form of a death certificate or published obituary.
Some companies offer to get your DD-214 for a fee. While this is not technically illegal, it is misleading.
The process for getting your DD214 isn't as complicated as you might think, and there's nothing a third party can do to speed it up. They only work on your behalf to spare you the paperwork and for a fee. Many find the cost is unreasonable once it's known how simple requesting your DD214 actually is.
National Guard and Reserves members won't have a DD-214. Separation documents for National Guard and Reserves typically come in the form of an NGB Form 22 or NGB Form 23.