DD Form 214

DD Form 214 is a document of the United States Department of Defense issued upon a military service member's retirement, separation or discharge from active-duty military.

The full name of the document is "Defense Department Form 214", however the document is often shortened to be called a DD 214. A DD Form 214 is also commonly referred to as "Discharge Papers". However, this is false. A person must serve a term of no less than eight years and the time they select Active, Reserve, or National Guard is counted against this limit. When a person completes their contract, they get their DD 214, with the Army being the only service to give it to their service members before they go on terminal leave (final vacation usually serving as a job hunting period). Other services must wait until after their separation date to receive their DD 214. After the eight year service obligation has expired, the servicemember receives a discharge certificate, which is coined "discharge papers" and proves the veteran served his obligation.

History and usage

The first DD Form 214s were issued in 1950, after replacing the older "WD AGO" (War Department Adjutant General) Forms and the NAVPERS (Naval Personnel) discharge documents. These documents, in turn, had existed since 1941.

DD Form 214 is widely regarded as one of the most important documents in the military as it is a complete record of a service member's time in the military, awards and medals, and other pertinent service information such as promotions, combat service or overseas service, Military Occupational Specialty identifiers and record of training and schools completed.

DD Form 214 is commonly used by various government agencies, chief among them the Department of Veterans Affairs, to secure veteran benefits, and may be requested by employers should a person indicate he or she has served in the military. This document also contains codes used by the Armed Forces to describe a former servicemember's reason for discharge and reenlistment eligibility. These codes are known as Separation Designator/Separation Justification (abbreviated as SPD/SJC) Codes and Reenlistment Eligibility (RE) Codes, respectively. (A reference for a list appears in #External Links.)

DD Form 214 is also generally required by funeral directors in order to provide military honors to a deceased veteran. On September 1, 2000, the National Defense Authorization Act enabled, upon the family's request, every eligible veteran to receive a military funeral honors ceremony to include folding, presentation of the United States burial flag and the sounding of Taps, at no cost to the family.

Available versions

There are two versions of the DD Form 214, usually referred to simply as "short" (edited) and "long" (unedited) copies. The edited or "short" copy omits a great deal of information, chiefly the characterization of service and reason for discharge, thus the unedited ("long") copy is generally desired by veterans' organizations, employers, and police alike.


Service members are given the option of accepting the edited, unedited or both copies upon separation. The National Personnel Records Center is the government agency tasked with replacing lost and destroyed DD Form 214s upon request from a veteran. The documents are mailed from the Military Personnel Records Center which maintains a goal of a ten-day response time for any request for a DD Form 214 (provided no other information is needed from the military service record). Also, there are several copies that are available, however, the most important copy is that coined "Member 4" and the servicemember is virtually unaidable without it since it is the standard form needed. This copy contains information as to the nature and type of discharge, and the Re-enlistment code. This code is used to determine whether or not the servicemember can go back into the service. For unemployment benefits, veterans affairs benefits, as well as for several other services, copy number four is usually needed.

Veterans can obtain their DD214 from the National Personnel Records Center. Veterans may also find private researchers to expedite record acquisition for a fee. The National Archives has a list of independent researchers who will undertake a personal search.

See also


External links

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