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.