Saturday, April 14, 2012
How to Acquire a Copy of Your Ancestor's Military Record
So you have some relatives who served in the US military and you would like to have copies of their military records? It’s actually relatively easy to get them, and depending on your relation to the person, as well as when he or she served, there might not be any cost involved other than a stamp.
Naturally there are places that will obtain the records for you, and if that is the route you want to go, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to do the paperwork for you!
However, if you were that child who stubbornly said “I’ll do it!” then here are some easy how-to steps to take…
First, you probably want a copy of his or her DD-214. If you didn’t already know it, the DD-214 (Report of Separation) is the standard piece of documentation that verifies someone served in the US Armed Forces. More specifically, according to the DD-214 website (http://dd214.us/):
The Defense Department issues to each veteran a DD-214, identifying the veteran's condition of discharge - honorable, general, other than honorable, dishonorable or bad conduct. 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.
The Report of Separation contains information normally needed to verify military service for benefits, retirement, employment, and membership in veterans' organizations. Information shown on the Report of Separation 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)
As you can see, a DD-214 is very useful in providing a basic outline of the service of an individual. To obtain a copy of your DD-214, or to obtain that of someone related to you, you begin with the National Archives’ Veterans Service Records page. You can find it at http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/. There they remind you that:
Military personnel records can be used for proving military service, or as a valuable tool in genealogical research. Most veterans and their next-of-kin can obtain free copies of their DD Form 214 (Report of Separation) and other military and medical records several ways.
Although there are several ways, the fastest and easiest way to acquire a DD-214 is right there on that page. If you meet the criteria (either the vet to whom the records pertain, or the next-of-kin, such as spouse, parent, sibling, or child) then you are entitled to a free copy of the DD-214 for your records. Simply click the button marked “Launch the eVetRecs System to start your request Online”. It’s that simple!
If you are looking for records for a member of the military who served prior to WWI, or if you don’t meet the next-of-kin requirement, you will need to complete a different form and mail it in. We’ll talk about that next time.