First, what is the DD form 214? The Department of Defense issues every servicemember a DD form 214 upon discharge. The DD form 214 identifies the status of the discharge of the veteran. The categories are honorable, general, other than honorable, dishonorable, and bad conduct. The DD form 214 replaced a slew of other forms that existed before 1950, and is a simple way to establish and provide evidence for a veteran’s discharge status. The DD form 214 is very important and fulfills a lot of different purposes. The DD form 214 is also known as the Report of Separation, and contains all the information that is normally required to verify military service.
The Report of Separation includes a good deal of information, including the date and place of entry into active duty, the home address at the time of entry into active duty, and the date and place of release from active duty. The Report of Separation also includes the home address after separation, the veteran’s last duty assignment and rank, his or her military job specialty, military education, any decorations, medals, badges, citations, and campaign awards that the veteran may have received, the total amount of creditable service, foreign service credited, and all relevant separation information, including the type of separation, character of service, authority and reason for separation, separation and reenlistment eligibility codes.
Your privacy in relation to the information in your DD form 214 is protected under the Privacy Act of 1974. The Privacy Act ensures that only the servicemember or the servicemember’s legal guardian can request a copy of the DD form 214. For anyone else to request the information from health records must have a signed form from the service member or their legal guardian authorizing them to access the information. In other words, no one can get your personal information unless you provide written consent for them to do so. There are some scams out there that will try to get your information, and they often won’t require you to sign anything, so make sure that if you use a private company to do research, you trust them and have double-checked to make sure they are legitimate.
In the event of a deceased veteran, next-of-kin can be granted access to more information than the general public under a very specific set of circumstances. The public does have access to some information about the veteran. The information available to the public is more general in nature, such as their name, service number, dates and branch of service, and other general information. The locations of his assignments, as well as his military education, a photograph of the veteran, and the place of entrance and separation may also be available to the public. If the veteran is deceased, his or her place of burial may also be available.
There are several ways to acquire your DD214, and it’s worth figuring out what the best way for you to get the form is. There are several free services that are available but tend to take a long time. So if you have time to wait, they are probably the best methods. The first step is to determine exactly when you need the DD214, and that will largely determine what method you use to acquire it. If you opt for the free method, you can expect it to take as long as several months. The free copies of the DD214 are provided by the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). They generally try to get the certified copies of separation documents within 10 business days, but often it takes longer, especially if there are more complex tasks involved than simply retrieving the separation papers. It’s important to realize that once you place your free order with the NPRC, your records will not be accessible to anyone else, so carefully consider the decision. Once you’ve submitted a request for the DD214, if you change your mind and decide to pay for a faster form, you’ll be out of luck; they likely will not be able to access the records until the NPRC is finished with them.
Be careful when looking for a private research company to get the DD214 on your behalf, because there are a fair amount of scam research companies that simply take your money. Consult with a VA-approved lender to see if they have any companies they work with for veterans looking to get their DD214.