The National Archives provides the ability to request veterans records (DD 214) for veterans who served in the US military between WWI and the present, using Standard Form 180 (SF-180).
This can be done either online or entirely on paper. One can also request replacement medals and other documents. The online form is available at:
For “online” requests, a paper copy must be printed (or a handwritten document must be prepared) in order to sign the affirmation that you are entitled to this information.
To submit the request, you will need to have a fair amount of information handy, including the veteran’s full name, social security number, service ID number, birth date and place, and approximate date of separation from service.
A helpful video on the process is available on the site, as well as embedded on this page. 90% of requests are processed within 10 days, according to NARA.
You can also simply write for the record. Is so, NARA requests the following information:
- The veteran’s complete name used while in service
- Service number or social security number
- Branch of service
- Dates of service
- Date and place of birth may also be helpful, especially if the service number is not known
- If the request pertains to a record that may have been involved in the 1973 fire, also include:
- Place of discharge
- Last unit of assignment
- Place of entry into the service, if known.
The service is free in most cases, and NARA will contact you if your request might have a fee. A fire in 1973 (Wikipedia | NARA) destroyed many records at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, notably:
|Branch||Personnel and Period Affected||Estimated Loss|
|Army||Personnel discharged November 1, 1912, to January 1, 1960||80%|
|Air Force||Personnel discharged, September 25, 1947, to January 1, 1964
(with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E.)
However, NARA continues to recover and restore records, so do not get discouraged, and consider requesting a coveted record again in a couple of years, as it may yet be recovered.