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The Veteran’s DD Form 214

By Staff | Aug 29, 2020

The DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, generally referred to as DD-214, is a document of the United States Department of Defense, issued upon a military service member’s retirement, separation, or discharge from active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States.

The DD-214 is the most critical initial document needed whenever a service member applies for any veteran benefit. It is the capstone military document as it represents the complete, verified record of a service member’s time in the military (active or reserve).

Some of the pertinent information on the DD-214 includes:

Full name used while in the military

Date and place of birth

Military service number or social security number

Date and place of induction

Date and place of discharge

Total military combat service or overseas service

Awards and medals received

Highest rank/rate and pay grade held on active duty

Type of discharge (e.g. honorable, general)

The DD-214 may be requested by employers should a person indicate he or she served in the military. It is also generally required by funeral directors in order to immediately prove eligibility for interment in a VA cemetery, to obtain a grave marker, or to provide military honors to a deceased veteran. On Sept. 1, 2000, the National Defense Authorization Act enabled, upon the family’s request, every eligible veteran to receive a military funeral honors ceremony to include the folding and presentation of the United States burial flag and the sounding of Taps, at no cost to the family.

Because of the importance of the DD-214, it is very important a veteran retain his official copy of the form. Many veterans have a copy recorded at their local county courthouse. This can be done at no cost to the veteran. Section 37-01-34 of the North Dakota Century Code clearly states:

“Recordation of discharge papers. An individual discharged from any branch of the armed forces of the United States may record, without payment or fee, that individual’s discharge from the armed forces, a certificate issued in lieu of the discharge, duly authenticated and certified copies of the discharge or certificate, or duly certified records of that individual’s service and discharge from the armed forces in the office of the recorder of the county in which that individual resides, unless the board of commissioners designate a different official. Any discharge document recorded by the recorder, or designated official, may be made available only to the following persons: the veteran, the parents, the veteran’s next of kin, the veteran’s legal representative, a county veterans service officer, a veterans organization service officer, the Department of Veterans Affairs, or a designee of the veteran.”

If a veteran is not able to locate his or her DD-214, a form (SF180) can be submitted to several different military and VA offices, requesting an official copy. The most common source used to make a request is to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO. If the request is for a deceased veteran, a death certificate, or some type of other proof of death (obituary), is often required.

As your County Veteran Service Officer, I am more than willing to assist any veteran, or a family member of a deceased veteran, help them locate a copy of the veteran’s DD-214. I can first check at our Clerk of Courts Office. If not there, I can also check with other County Veterans Service Officers to see if it could possibly be in another county courthouse. If this is still not successful, I can then assist the requester with submitting the form SF180.

All veterans should have in their possession their DD-214, or know where it is recorded. It is also important to inform family members of the location of this document. Knowledge and access to its location will help ensure a more timely process when applying for any type of veteran benefit.

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