Service Records and Proof of Your Eligibility
In order to get your benefits you have to prove to the VA that you are entitled to them. Sadly, they will not seek you out and give you a giant benefits package with everything done for you. You have to give the VA office an official copy of your DD Form 214/215 or NGB 22/22A.
These forms are the most important forms you will be given during your military service as they are the key to getting all of your benefits.
DD Forms 214 and 215
The DD forms 214/215 are used as certification for active-duty military and Reservists. The DD form 214 is a Certification of Release or Discharge. It shows the following information:
- Reserve or active duty time
- Your military job
- Any military awards
- Your education
- The dates and places where you entered the military
- The dates and places where you left the military
- Your military assignments
- Why you left the military
- Your discharge characterization
DD Form 215 corrects any errors or additions to DD form 214. There are two versions of the forms. The first is the deleted version. This version can be shown to civilians such as future employers. It will exclude the discharge characterization as well as the discharge reason in case you do not want your future employer to know this.
The second is the undeleted version. This includes all relevant information and is used when you apply for your VA benefits.
When you leave the military you should be given both a deleted and undeleted version of this form. If this does not happen, or you need another copy, you can request a replacement.
The National Personnel Records Center will keep a copy of all active-duty and reserve military records.
If you need one you can request any part of your military records so long as you submit signed copy of SF Form 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records.
You can download this form at www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf.
Mail the completed form to:
National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
9700 Page Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63132-5100
You can now complete a records request online at www.archives.gov/veterans/evetrecs/index.html.
You must still print and sign a signature verification form (and mail or fax it), because federal law requires a signature on all records request.
How Long Does It Take?
It is important to bear in mind that the National Personnel Records Center is responsible for processing nearly 20,000 requests per week. As such, turnaround times for records requested from the National Personnel Records Center will vary based on the type of request.
NGB Forms 22 and 22A
While the DD Forms 214/215 are designated for reserve and active duty service the NGB forms 22/22A Report of Separation and Military Service are meant for those who served in the Army and Air National Guard. It is the same counterpart which includes:
- Information about service time with the National Guard
- Military job
- Reason for discharge
- Discharge characterization
NGB Form 22A is meant for changes to your NGB Form 22.
The National Guard belongs to individual states, not the federal government, so there is no central repository for records. You have to contact the National Guard Adjutant General’s Office for the particular state in which you performed National Guard service.
For contact information, visit http://www.ngbpdc.ngb.army.mil/.
Military Medical Records
If you have ever been in the military—even for one day—you have medical records. When you enter into the military you must undergo a physical examination the information from which is noted in a detailed medical record.
Your medical records are heavily relied upon by the VA to determine whether or not you
You can request a copy of your military medical record by sending a written request to:
National Personnel Records Center Military Personnel Records
9700 Page Ave. St.
Louis, MO 63132-5100
If you need to file a claim for disability compensation or medical benefits you do not need to request a copy of medical records. The VA will request this automatically.
You can request a copy from the VA regional office having jurisdiction over your claim.
When you are issued your DD Form 214/215 or NGB form 22/22A you need to protect it in the same manner as you would other sensitive documents such as marriage certificates or wills. It is best to keep it in a fireproof lock box or in a safe deposit box.
In certain states you can record your military separation documents the same as you would a land deed. You can register with your country recorder or town hall which will allow you to retrieve them at a later date quickly for a small fee.
In an effort to ensure the documents are not viewed by unauthorized personnel you can ask the registering agency who is legally granted access. If public access is granted then you may want to reconsider registering the document.