DD Form 214, Discharge Papers and Separation Documents
Contents of the DD 214 / Report of Separation
A Certificate of Release or Report of Separation is generally issued when a service member performs active duty or at least 90 consecutive days of active duty training.
It is used to prove military service for benefits, retirement, employment, and membership in veterans' organizations. Information may include the service member's:
- Date and place of entry into active duty;
- Home address at time of entry;
- Date and place of release from active duty;
- Home address after separation;
- Last duty assignment and rank;
- Military job specialty;
- Military education;
- Decorations, medals, badges, citations, and campaign awards;
- Total creditable service;
- Foreign service credited;
- Separation information (type of separation, character of service, authority and reason for separation, separation and reenlistment eligibility codes).
The report of separation form issued in most recent years is the DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.
Before January 1, 1950, several similar forms were used by the military services, including the WD AGO 53, WD AGO 55, WD AGO 53-55, NAVPERS 553, NAVMC 78PD, and the NAVCG 553.
What if the DD 214 is not accurate?
The information on the DD 214 will be used to decide eligibility for benefits and legal protections tied to military service. A chart of some important federal benefits is provided here.
Always keep the original copy of your DD 214 in a safe place. Make copies for employers or other purposes.
It is very important to make sure that the information listed on the DD 214 is correct.
If you disagree with the reason or the character of your discharge (e.g., honorable, other than honorable, etc.) listed on your DD 214 and were separated from military service within the past 15 years, you must request review of that decision by the appropriate military review board. Read more details about requesting a review here.
If you disagree with other information on your DD-214 (or want review of a discharge that occurred more than 15 years ago), you need to submit a DD-149 "Application for Correction of Military Records" to the correct review board for your branch of service:
- Army Board for Correction of Military Records
- Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records
- Navy and Marines Board for Corrections of Naval Records
- Coast Guard
You might be more successful if you seek the help of an attorney to prepare your request. There are many organizations that can help you, free of charge.
Replacing Your DD Form 214
If you are a veteran or next-of-kin of a deceased veteran, you can order a free copy of your DD Form 214 from the National Personnel Records Center's online military personnel records system. Be wary of private businesses that offer to do this for you for a fee. The NPRC website states that they offer a ten-day turnaround on requests and can also help in emergency situations.
More information about the process of requesting military records, including the DD 214, is provided at the NPRC website.
All other requests for replacement copies should be made by submitting a Military Records Request (SF 180) to the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR). Read here for information about this process.