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The purpose of this blog to show veterans how to obtain records to verify military service to be able to obtain benefits you earned by serving our country.
Every active duty soldier is provided a DD Form 214 when they exit the service. This may be provided directly to the soldier at separation or sent in the mail. If you have lost your DD-214, and your separation was recent, you can request the form online directly from Veterans Affairs
If you register on the e-benefits website and they are unable to find your DD-214, you can submit an official request through the National Archives.
Every Reservists, when exiting the service, are provided with a DD Form 256. National Guard or Air National Guard should have a NGB Form 22. If you have lost your discharge paperwork, typically the state you discharged from would need to be contacted to obtain the form.
These two forms are the most widely accepted form to prove military service. If you are Active Duty or an active reservist, a letter from your commanding officer regarding your current enlistment status and military ID are generally enough proof.
Either the DD-214 or NGB Form 22 (or revised copies) would be needed to attempt to be awarded military benefits such as a home loan Certificate of Eligibility, GI Bill, burial benefits, disability and medical benefits.
There may be challenges gaining records prior to 1973 as there was a fire that destroyed the records of 80% of Army and Air Force veterans. If you request records and find that they were destroyed, to prove service from that time period you would need to provide any physical copies of records that you may have, copies of military awards, photos in uniform or written statements from people you served with.
If you have your discharge records or any medical records requested and received, keep the official copies in a water and fireproof safe, keep an electronic copy on a computer and backed up. Scan and copy all records onto a CD/DVD or a thumb drive and put them in a safe. You want to keep these files forever. You never know when you may need to file a claim for medical issues that arise many years after service that can be tied to your enlistment period.
I hope this information helps you move forward with your upcoming VA journey.
Continue reading other helpful articles:
4 Easy Checks to Verify VA Loan Eligibility
Benefits of Using a VA Home Loan