Your DD Form 214, Verification of Military Service, is one of the most valuable military service records you will ever hold – it verifies your military service and includes your complete name used while in service, service number or social security number, branch of service, dates of service, and additional information regarding your military service.
Without your DD Form 214, you are ineligible for veteran’s benefits, including VA medical care, the GI Bill, VA Loans, and many other programs. Veterans should treat their DD Form 214 like any other important document – birth and marriage certificates, wills, vehicle titles, land deeds, insurance policies, etc.
Safeguard your DD Form 214
One of the most important things you can do is maintain its safety. I recommend keeping several copies, just in case. Because it has your SSN and other private information, you should keep your copy locked away in a lock box or safety deposit box – you don’t want to become a victim of identity theft because someone swiped your SSN from your military records.
Consider registering it with your county or town hall
In many states your DD Form 214 can be registered with your town hall or county registrar, just like a land deed or vehicle title. You can consider doing this to maintain a record of your service, because it will make document retrieval quick and easy (though you may have to pay a small fee). Before registering your DD Form 214 with any office, make sure state or local laws do not permit public access to your DD Form 214. Because it has your SSN, you may be exposing your private information to the world, making you an easy target for identity theft.
What to do if you lose your DD Form 214
If you lose your DD Form 214, it is not the end of the world. But it can take several weeks, or even months to get it replaced. If you lose you DD Form 214, you will need to contact the National Personnel Records Center to get a new copy of your DD Form 214.
National Personnel Records Center
Attention: [Your Service, e.g., Air Force] Records
9700 Page Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63132-5000
Here are step by step instructions for getting a new copy of your DD Form 214.
You may also call the National Records Personnel Center telephone information lines:
Army Reference Branch: (314) 538 – 4122
Air Force Branch: (314) 538 – 4218
Navy Reference Branch: (314) 538 – 4200
Marines Reference Branch: (314) 538 – 4200
Coast Guard: (314) 538 – 4200
Be sure to have the following information available when you make your request:
- Your full name
- Social Security number
- Current phone number (including area code)
- Approximate dates of service
- Place of discharge
- Return address
- Reason for request
You can find more information about replacing your DD Form 214, including which forms you will need to send to the National Personnel Records Center, at the National Archives website. Remember, it can take a long time to get your document replaced, so take care of it. It is the most important military document you have!