DD214 separation codes indicate the type of discharge a veteran has from military service. The five grades of discharge used are honorable, general, other than honorable, bad conduct and dishonorable.
A veteran can receive an honorable, general or other than honorable separation code on the DD214 without going through a court process. Examples of these discharges include completion of service term, medical disability and hardship. The bad conduct and dishonorable separation codes are only used after a veteran has been through a court martial. These discharges typically involve some form of criminal activity.
The two forms used for the DD214 are called the long and short copies. Both forms are given to a veteran at the time of discharge from service. The short copy contains a brief overview of the veteran's separation from service. The long form goes into more detail regarding the veteran's separation from service, including the reason for discharge and discharge characterization. The quality of service is also discussed on the long form.
Veterans may be asked for the DD214 when applying for jobs, especially those in federal or state government. It can also be requested when a veteran applies for a professional license such as a nursing license or a license to practice law.