Determine Your Veteran Status

Determine Your Veteran Status

Determining Veteran Status – Eligibility

Service Records: Proving Your Eligibility

For a veteran to show they’re eligible for benefits, they must first present the VA office with an official copy of their DD Form 214/215, or NGB 22/22A, which are some of the most significant documents issued by the military. They are a requirement for all VA business and inquiries in addition to several state and federal veteran’s benefits programs.

DD Forms 214 and 215
For active-duty members and members of the Reserves, DD Forms 214 and 215 are considered documentation of military service. DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge provides the VA with time in reserve and active-duty, military job, awards, education, dates, and locations the individual entered and left the military, military assignments, and reason for leaving the service and characterization of discharge. DD Form 215, on the other hand, records and corrects any mistakes that might be added to DD Form 214 after being delivered.

Of these forms there are two versions:

  • The deleted version can be shown to promising civilian employers during job applications, and it omits the characterization of discharge and reason for discharge.
  • The undeleted version is mandatory when applying for VA benefits and includes discharge characterization and the reason for discharge.

When processing for departure from the military, veterans should obtain a copy of the deleted and undeleted versions of the DD Form 214. If a copy was not received or went missing, a request can be made for a new one from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri.

Getting replacement copies of DD Form 214, 215

The National Personnel Records Center is in charge of copies of all active-duty and reserve military records. To request a copy of any portion of military records, such as the DD Form 214/215, submit a signed copy of SF Form 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records.

SF Form 180 is available for download from:

Mail the completed form to:

National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
9700 Page Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63132-5100

  • To avoid mail time, it is now possible to request records online at Also, because the federal law necessitates a signature on all records requests, a signature verification form must still be printed, signed, and mailed or faxed.

Duration of preparation

In the past, DD Form 214/215 requests could take as long as 180 days to process. Fortunately, in recent years, thanks to Congress donating funds to upgrade computers, the National Personnel Records Center can process and mail DD Form 214 in as little as seven days. Not all requests experience such a quick processing time, however, as the length of time to process can fluctuate significantly due to the type of request.

For the legal definition of a veteran, go to:

NGB Forms 22 and 22A

NGB Form 22, Report of Separation and Military Service, encloses information concerning an Army or Air National Guard service member’s National Guard service time, military job, decorations, the reason for discharge, and discharge characterization, similar to the DD Forms 214 and 215 for active-duty and reserves. NGB Form 22A is used in making changes to a military record after submission.

  • The National Guard is associated with the individual state and not the federal government, so there’s not a central storehouse for National Guard records.

For a copy of the NGB Form 22/22A, a request must be made to the National Guard Adjutant General’s Office in the state from which the service member carried out their National Guard service.

Military medical records

Every time a service member is given medical care from a military medical facility—including the very first physical examination each member must take part in during the initial stages of service—their specifics are documented in their military medical record.

Medical records are important for the VA offices as well because they use them as evidence when defining whether or not a medical condition was caused or worsened by service time.

To request a copy of military medical records, send a written request to:

National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
9700 Page Ave.
St. Louis, Mo 63132-5100

  • You don’t need to request a copy of your military medical record if you plan to file a claim for medical benefits or disability compensation with the VA because when a claim is filed, the VA requests the record routinely as part of their criteria. Same goes for a claim for disability benefits from the VA, as it already holds a copy of your medical records.


Protecting Your Paperwork

Because DD Form 214/215 and NGB Form 22/22A are sensitive documents, it is important to ensure the protection of these forms. Safe-deposit boxes at a bank or other lock boxes are secure locations for such records.

  • Soon after departing from the military it is advantageous to contemplate registering these documents with a county recorder or town hall, as most states permit individuals to record separation documents the same as any other momentous document. A negligible fee is generally required to salvage these documents at a later date.
  • Warning! If public access to your documents is authorized by state or local law, it gives the public the ability to look at your sensitive documents and can actually be detrimental in the effort to protect personal information. Make sure to inquire before registering.
  • Terry Rosendahl
    Posted at 16:35h, 04 October

    I was in BT back in 96 for 10 days before I was injured. I never got ant DD-214 or discharge papers. I am not looking for VA benefits. But would like my papers to show I at least tried to serve our country.

  • Marshelle D Church
    Posted at 15:38h, 25 September

    I began basic training for the Army and before completing my basic training, I had an asthma attack which resulted in an honorable discharge. I’m sure I don’t qualify for a Veteran status, but since this site is open for questions I thought I’d just ask.


  • Yadira
    Posted at 20:50h, 28 August

    I served in the US Navy Reserves for 4 years before I went Inactive Ready for another 4 yrs (all between 2005 and 2013). When I tried to obtain by DD214 they only sent me a NAVPERS 1070/615. The form says i was honorably discharged and eligible to reenlist. My question is two-fold:

    1. Am i supposed to have a DD214? and where or how can i get it?

    2. Would i qualify for VA benefits or other benefits since i only served 4 yrs in reserves with no active duty time (other than my 17-day AT here in the states)?

  • Frederick L Baker
    Posted at 19:05h, 15 August

    I am an employer, and I want to give jobs to veterans. How can I check immediately if someone is a veteran? I only care if they are, not even their discharge status, though I would like that too. Filing paperwork and waiting for a response isn’t always in my timeline.

    I know it can be done on-line for active duty, but for veterans?

  • Joe Morrill
    Posted at 01:22h, 13 August

    I was discharged honorable with 10 % disability over 10 yrs ago but never received the payout check. Could I still contact someone n this matter ?

  • Loren staake
    Posted at 18:13h, 02 August

    I was in the army reserves in the midto late 80s and had an general discharge do I quillfy was vet benefits

  • Ernest Leyva
    Posted at 01:06h, 28 July

    I joined the US Navy and went through basic in 1980 and served until early 1982. I have the Sea Service ribbon. Operation upgrade was introduced in 1982 and I was given a general discharge. What I still be qualified as a veteran?

  • Barry Adelstein
    Posted at 15:26h, 15 June

    I was in the army reserves from 69-75. I did my basic training as well as my other training for six months. I did my weekends and two weeks every summer. My unit was activated for the mail strike in NY. Am I considered a veteran and what if any benefits am I entitled to?

  • Mc Taylor
    Posted at 03:22h, 27 May

    What is a DD 256N discharge?

  • Mc Taylor
    Posted at 03:21h, 27 May

    What is a

  • Dawn Henry
    Posted at 06:36h, 11 May

    My husand served in the army national guard from august 1990 to seperation in 1999 with an additional 2 years of standby. with honarable discharge.

    His unit was called up for active duty for the hurricane in 1992 and the fire in florida 1998 his unit were also on standby many times during dessert storm etc does he qualify for vetern status

  • James Gardner
    Posted at 20:30h, 03 April

    I served in the Active Army from 2007-2011 an deployed once an then went to the army reserve from 2011-2015 an i have to ask how do you determine if your a protected veteran?

  • Lisa Hoheisel
    Posted at 15:54h, 07 December

    I served in the Navy from May 13, 1989 to November 21, 1990. I was honorably discharged for being gay. Anyway, I just got a copy of my DD214. I was hoping to get get some VA benefits specifically a VA home loan. From what I’ve been reading online, it appears I’m not considered a Vet even though I willingly signed the “blank check payable up to & including my life.” I took the oath & ment every word of it, even today.
    But, it’s looking like I am going to get screwed again by the military of a country that I love. I would love to get some advice. I’m sure your going to tell me to go to my local VA office. But, it’s not very local. And I don’t want to waste my time and theirs if all I’m going to get is “there’s nothing we can do for you. But, hey! Thank you for your service!” it’s very humiliating & depressing. I’m 48 you I’m too old to join the reserves or National Guard. Trust I would in a heart beat if I could.
    Thank you for taking the time to read this.
    Lisa Hoheisel

  • James A. Cooper
    Posted at 21:00h, 10 August

    I served in the U.S. Navy from 1955 to 1957. What is my veteran status of eligibility for VA benefits?

    • Adam
      Posted at 16:05h, 11 August

      You can find out more information on this by calling the VA Benefits help line at 1-800-827-1000

  • Hannah Du
    Posted at 09:39h, 27 June

    Hello. A friend of my family has served as a Vietnamese ally piloting with the U.S. air force during the Vietnam War. He was wondering, first, if he would even be eligible for veteran status in the U.S., seeing as he was only an ally, though he is a U.S. citizen now. Secondly, if he is eligible, what steps would he need to take to attain veteran status? Any information would be helpful.

    • Adam
      Posted at 17:25h, 27 June

      You can obtain this information directly from the VA by submitting your question by e-mail to the VA through the Ask A Question link on, or contact a benefits representative at 1-800-827-1000 (Monday-Friday from 8 to 8 Eastern time). These VA specialists can answer any questions you may have.

  • Vernon Wesley
    Posted at 17:24h, 02 June

    I don’t seem to fit any of the “new” categories now listed on applications:

    What is your veteran status?
    Armed Forces service medal veteran
    Disabled Veteran
    Not Applicable
    Other Protected Veteran
    Recently separated veteran
    Special Disabled Veteran
    Veteran of Vietnam Era

    I served from 1979 – 1982 which doesn’t seem to fit the categories above because it was a non-war era. I know my time in counts but I have no idea which I should check. ???

  • Arthur Charles Payne
    Posted at 19:18h, 15 May

    I was in the Army from 1966 to 1970, serving in Viet Nam as well in the USA, but due to mental diffitcultys substain from the horrors of war I found myself in trouble more then one time, so I recieved a undsireable {DD212} discharge, I believe the time has come to reconcile this, what can I do, who can I see for a VA. hearing?

  • Monica
    Posted at 15:54h, 07 May

    I did 5 months of basic training. Got an honorable discharge i considered a vet?

    • Editor
      Posted at 15:50h, 08 May

      For the purposes of VA health benefits and services, a person who served in the active military service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable is a Veteran. See here for more information:

  • Kenneth
    Posted at 15:42h, 17 March

    I was a member of the ARNG and was placed on orders for Iraqi freedom campaign. I completed 9 months of active duty before getting a honorable discharge. Am I able or qualify for Vet status and benefits??

  • Nina
    Posted at 23:16h, 16 December


  • Matt moyer
    Posted at 19:56h, 06 December

    I was in training from 03-03-1978 -05-26-1978 it was peace time I got an honorable ( format 500) / medical discharge
    Am I a veteran status or not
    I do have a dd214 and it states honorable
    Am I a veteran

    • Matt moyer
      Posted at 20:12h, 06 December

      I got a permanent fracture in my right wrist on the horizonal ladder in training also I now have a plate and 8 screws as a result

    • Megan
      Posted at 15:54h, 21 December

      For information about veteran eligibility see:

  • John Faulkner
    Posted at 19:28h, 31 October

    I was in the National Guards in Kentucky in the 70’s for 6 Years with a DD- 214 when discharged! I know I won’t receive benefits but am I a Veteran?

  • Nate
    Posted at 15:36h, 10 October

    Im a Veteran, applying for a Federal job with, lets say “a lettered agency” and when the Veterans preference option came up, a box with 3 options appeared with these choices;
    1) New Fed
    2)Prev DCIPS
    3)Prev Fed.

    I have NO CLUE what these mean, with the exception of “DCIPS”, I only know that the acronym itself is, i dont know what they are meaning in this sense (when its comes to Veterans preference)

  • Scott J.
    Posted at 11:34h, 10 September

    I joined the Army in early August of 2000. I was released in mid December of 2000 for Hardship because my mother became deathly ill. I was required to care for her. Do I qualify as a veteran?

    • Veteran Assistance
      Posted at 18:52h, 16 September

      This should be helpful regarding your status as a veteran.

    • Editor
      Posted at 20:23h, 12 September

      Minimum Duty Requirements
      Most Veterans who enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered active duty after October 16, 1981, must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which they were called to active duty in order to be eligible. This minimum duty requirement may not apply to Veterans who were discharged for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, for a hardship or “early out,” or those who served prior to September 7, 1980. Since there are a number of other exceptions to the minimum duty requirements, VA encourages all Veterans to apply so that we may determine their enrollment eligibility. You can check here for more information:

  • Vicki M.
    Posted at 20:19h, 22 July

    I served active duty US Army from 1989 to 1993 with honorable discharge. Am I still considered a veteran? Do I eligible for any benefits at this time?

  • Wendy R.
    Posted at 00:54h, 02 June

    I was in basic training in 1982 during bivouac I fainted and was rushed to the hospital via ambulance I had pneumonia. I was given the option to be recycled or a TDY discharge allowing me to return in 6 months. I opted for the discharged, but did not return in 6 months. A few years ago I was enrolling in school and the subject of my time in the army came up, I had never looked at my DD214 and when I did it stated I was discharged for being non=productive/marginal. This was not the case I was discharged about 5 days after being released from Noble Army Hospital at Ft. McCullean in Anniston Alabama. I sent a letter advising the real reason for my discharge and was advised that there was a fire and a lot of records were destroyed. Whwn I questioned the fact that the hospital must have records the person that was responding to my letter told me “how dare I make demands”. What do I need to do to the correct my discharge records?

    • Editor
      Posted at 03:50h, 02 June

      The individual military departments do not maintain files or records pertaining to individuals no longer on active duty. When an individual is separated from military service (because of retirement, discharge from active duty, or death) his/her Field Personnel File (containing all military and health records) is forwarded for storage to the National Personnel Records Center (Military), 9700 Page Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63172. The Records Center is under the jurisdiction of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) of the U.S. Government.

      Their web site is: Veterans Service Records

      An individual’s complete service record is available to the former service member or, if deceased, to his/her next of kin (parents, spouse, or children). Limited information (such as dates of service, awards, and training) is available to anyone. Not available to the general public is information which would invade an individual’s privacy, such as medical records, Social Security number, or present address.

      To order records from St. Louis:

      – If you are a veteran or next-of-kin of a deceased veteran, use eVetRecs, at (or use the paper form, SF-180).
      – All others, use Standard Form 180.

  • Daniel Burene
    Posted at 21:20h, 22 May

    How do I know if I am a veteran I was in the national guard and then went active and then discharged my service time 86 to 91

    • Editor
      Posted at 14:13h, 23 May

      If you served in the active military service and were separated under any condition other than dishonorable, you may qualify for VA benefits. Current and former members of the Reserves or National Guard who were called to active duty by a federal order and completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty may be eligible for VA benefits as well.

      Reserves or National Guard members with active duty for training purposes only do not meet the basic eligibility requirement. See for more info.

    • Mike
      Posted at 18:03h, 03 July

      You are a veteran

  • L.Harris
    Posted at 02:37h, 17 May

    I am an honorably discharged National Guardsman with 10% VA disability. Am I considered a veteran? It does not look like I qualify for a DoD ID and in some cases it appears I am not considered a veteran at all.

    • Editor
      Posted at 13:29h, 17 May

      A “Veteran” is a person who

      • served in the active military, naval or air service, and
      • was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.

      • For more information on the definition of the term “Veteran” for purposes of compensation, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and death pension, see 38 CFR § 3.1(d).
      • For a list of groups approved for Veteran status, see M21-1MR, Part III, Subpart iii, 2.K.78.

      You can find more information about your VA benefits here:

    • Bruce E Head
      Posted at 21:14h, 26 September

      I was a member of United States Marine Corps Reserves and to most people because I didn’t fight kill anyone or die I’m not a veteran. If you voluntarily put on a uniform to serve your country and anyway to me you are a veteran. And you deserve all benefits associated with being a veteran.

  • George Kallis
    Posted at 17:18h, 18 April

    I am a Vietnam Vet and I would like to get an identification card from the VA. How do I get one. ihave a copy of my dd214.

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