Perhaps the most important military document you will ever receive is the DD Form 214, Discharge Papers and Separation Documents. This form serves as your proof of military service and is often used to verify military service for benefits such as the GI Bill, VA Loan, VA medical benefits, retirement benefits, employment, and membership in veteran’s organizations.
Because your DD Form 214 is so important, it is imperative you keep a copy of it for proof of service or eligibility for benefits, organization membership, or other programs. Unfortunately, things happen and your DD Form 214 can get lost or stolen. The following instructions can help you replace your DD Form 214 if you need another copy – for yourself or a loved one.
How to replace DD Form 214
If you need to replace your DD Form 214 you should request a copy of military personnel records from the National Archives.
Two methods for requesting military records: Veterans and their next of kin have two methods for requesting copies of military records:
- Electronic method. Use the eVetRecs system to create your request.
- Paper method. Mail or Fax a Standard Form SF-180 (see address below). Paper forms must be printed, signed, and dated.
NPRC Mailing Address:
National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63132-5100
Required information to request replacement DD Form 214:
- Veteran’s complete name used while in service.
- Service number or Social security number.
- Branch of service.
- Dates of service.
- Date and place of birth (especially if the service number is not known).
- Recommended information (not required, but may help expedite the process): Purpose for request (applying for benefits, preparing to retire, researching personal military history), deadline, additional forms or information required.
If you believe your records may have been destroyed in the 1973 fire, then you should have the following information available:
- Place of discharge.
- Last unit of assignment.
- Place of entry into the service, if known.
The Privacy Act of 1974 requires all military records requests be submitted in writing, and each request must be signed and dated by the veteran or next-of-kin.
Who may request military records:
Only the veteran or the next of kin of a deceased veteran can request a complete copy of a member’s military service records (limited information may be available to the general public). If you are the next of kin of a deceased veteran and are requesting a copy of the veteran’s military records, you must provide proof of death of the veteran, such as a copy of death certificate, letter from funeral home, or published obituary.
Next-of-kin is defined as the surviving spouse that has not remarried, father, mother, son, daughter, sister, or brother. If you are a relative of the deceased veteran, but are not considered next of kin, you can still request a copy of the military service records. However, you need to complete Standard Form 180. Follow the instructions found here: Access to Military Records by the General Public and Researchers.
Additional tips when requesting military records
- Be patient. Standard requests for a copy of your DD Form 214 normally take at least 10 days, and may take longer, especially if the records were involved in the fire of 1973. You can check the status of your request via e-mail or by telephone at NPRC Customer Service Line: 1-314-801-0800 (note: this is not a toll-free number).
- Avoid military records scams: Most military records are provided by the National Archives free of charge for veterans, next-of-kin, and authorized representatives. If your request involves a service fee, you will be notified by a representative from the National Archives. There are some companies out there who charge exorbitant fees to do research which can be done by you for free. Keep in mind you must also provide these companies with sensitive and private personal information including your social security number.