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 gigantic 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 a 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.