For veterans, providing proof of military service is often the first—and most important—step toward receiving essential benefits such as mortgage assistance, employment preference, and training and education opportunities. This typically means presenting a copy of their DD214, or Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. If they never received a DD214, or if their original was lost or damaged, the next step is requesting a copy either directly from the National Archives or through an independent researcher—but what about those times when a spouse or family member needs to request a DD214?
Why would a spouse or family member need to request a DD214?
There are two primary reasons:
- If a veteran is ill or disabled and physically unable to order a copy of their military records, their next-of-kin will need to do it for them. This is especially important when it comes to securing VA health care benefits.
- If a veteran has passed away, the responsibility then falls to the next-of-kin to provide proof of service, for example to obtain memorial benefits.
Who is considered next-of-kin?
Only the military veteran or their next-of-kin may request a copy of a DD214. The term “next-of-kin” is defined by the U.S. government as one of the following individuals: the spouse or surviving widow (if not remarried) or the parent, child or sibling of the veteran.
What will I need to request my veteran family member’s DD214?
According to the National Archives website, if you are the next-of-kin to your veteran family member, you will need the following information and/or documentation to request a copy of their DD214:
- The veteran’s complete name used while in service
- Service number
- Social Security number
- Branch of service
- Dates of service
- Date and place of birth (especially if the service number is not known)
- If you suspect your records may have been involved in the 1973 fire, also include:
- Place of discharge
- Last unit of assignment
- Place of entry into the service, if known
All requests must be signed and dated by the veteran or next-of-kin. If your veteran family member is deceased, you will also need to provide one of the following: a copy of the death certificate, a letter from the funeral home or the published obituary.
Can I request a DD214 online? And how long will it take?
If you go through the National Archives system, you can only start the process online, but you’ll then need to download and print out a military records request form (SF-180).
After you have filled out the SF-180, you’ll need to fax or mail it to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. From there, it can take up to six months for the government to locate your records at one of the more than 100 records repositories across the country.
Your best (and quickest) option is to use an independent researcher like DD214Direct.com, a company founded by veterans, for veterans.
You can order a copy of your DD214 online in just a few minutes from DD214Direct, and in most cases we’ll process your request the same day in our office and submit it to the government the next business day. As soon as we locate your records, which can take as little as a few weeks, you’ll receive a scanned copy via email. Shortly after that, we’ll send you a hard copy by mail.
What if I’m not next-of-kin but still want a copy of my family member’s records?
Unfortunately, you’re limited in what you can or cannot request. Even if you are a niece, grandson or a cousin, you’re still considered a member of the general public because you don’t meet the government’s criteria for next-of-kin.
You can find out more here about which documents are considered “releasable” to the general public and how to go about requesting them.
Not sure if your veteran family member has their DD214? It’s best to be proactive.
If you are a family member of a veteran who is ailing and you anticipate needing to act on their behalf in the near future, it may be wise to talk to your veteran spouse, sibling, etc. and make sure they have the military records they need.
If not, offer to help them order a copy of their DD214 now before the need becomes urgent. This simple step can help avoid delays down the line when it comes to necessary medical care and burial benefits.
Veteran-owned DD214Direct helps you get the documents you need, when you need them.
Our cutting-edge technology platform and keen knowledge of government protocol and procedure allow us to deliver your documents faster than competitors. We physically stand in line at the records repository and manually coordinate your order, freeing up your time and easing your worries about whether or not you will get your DD214. Much like paying a small fee to have your taxes done by a professional, DD214Direct provides the service and convenience you’ve been hoping for, plus we make it a lot easier.
Instead of having to download, print, sign and fax your document request form, you can submit your order directly through our website with the ease of e-signature technology from a desktop, laptop or mobile device. Once we locate your DD214, we will email you a copy immediately—a service not offered by the government. And tracking your request through us is simple, so you never have to worry about long hold times and inconclusive answers.
Ready to get started? Click here to begin the order process.