Having a copy of your military records is extremely important for the purposes of possible Veterans Benefits, Retirement Pay, Genealoogical reasons , and for your family in the event of your death. In addition, making sure your records are correct (and goodness knows there are thousands of stories where human errors and laziness screwed up someone's records) is vital. One error could cost you thousands of dollars in benefits, and recognition that you earned. The one clearinghouse for military records is The National Archives.
Below, I have copied information from their website, www.archives.gov. You can get even more information by clicking on the links below, and searching more on their website.
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.
Use the following to request veterans' service records from WW I - Present. (Looking for Pre-WWI Service Records?)
Our online eVetRecs system creates a customized order form to request information from your, or your relative's, military personnel records. You may use this system if you are:
Please note: Records are accessioned into the National Archives, and become archival, 62 years after the service member's separation from the military. This is a rolling date; hence, the current year, 2011, minus 62 years is 1949. Records with a discharge date of 1949 or prior are archival and are open to the public. Records with a discharge date of 1949 or after are non-archival and are maintained under the Federal Records Center program. Non-archival records are subject to access restrictions. Learn more
If the Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) is a Federal (non-archival) record:
If the Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) is an Archival record:
Use the link at the top of this page to get started using eVetRecs or visit eVetRecs Help and FAQ to learn more.
Your request must contain certain basic information for us to locate your service records. This information includes:
While this information is not required, it is extremely helpful to NPRC staff in understanding and fulfilling your request:
If your request is urgent (e.g. upcoming surgery, funeral, etc.) and there is a deadline associated with your request, please provide this information in the "Comments" section of eVetrecs or in the "Purpose" section of the SF-180 and fax it to our Customer Service Team at (314) 801-0764. Our goal is to complete all urgent requests within two working days. However, in some instances we can complete requests the same day if necessary. Please contact our customer service staff at (314) 801-0800 if you have questions or require same day service. Due to the large number of calls we receive at this number, hold times are often long. However, once you reach a technician they will be happy to assist you with emergency service.
If your burial request involves interment at a Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery, contact the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at (800) 535-1117 or visit their website http://www.cem.va.gov/bbene/need.asp. We work directly with the Veterans Affairs staff to obtain records to verify service for burial benefits. If the veteran is not going to be interned at a National Cemetery, the requester may fax the SF-180 or signature page from eVetRecs (including signature of the next of kin and proof of death) to the Customer Service Team at (314) 801-0764. If your request involves the burial of a Marine Corps veteran, you may also contact the USMC Liaison Officer at (314) 538-2344.
NOTE: The 1973 Fire at the National Personnel Records Center damaged or destroyed 16-18 million Army and Air Force records that documented the service history of former military personnel discharged from 1912-1964. Although the information in many of these primary source records was either badly damaged or completely destroyed, often alternate record sources can be used to reconstruct the service of the veterans impacted by the fire. Sometimes we are able to reconstruct the service promptly using alternate records that are in our holdings, but other times we must request information from other external agencies for use in records reconstruction. In some instances, therefore, requests that involve reconstruction efforts may take several weeks to a month to complete.
You can mail or fax your signed and dated request to the National Archives's National Personnel Record Center (NPRC). Most, but not all records, are stored at the NPRC. Be sure to use the address specified by eVetRecs or the instructions on the SF-180. Locations of Military Service Records.
Generally there is no charge for basic military personnel and medical record information provided to veterans, next-of-kin and authorized representatives from Federal (non-archival) records. If your request involves a service fee, you will be notified as soon as that determination is made.
However, Archival OMPFs are subject to the NARA fee schedule that authorizes the Agency to collect fees from the public for copies of archival records (44 USC 2116c and 44 USC 2307).
Online, mailed and faxed archival requests require the purchase of the COMPLETE photocopy of the OMPF:
Once you have allowed sufficient time for us to receive and process your request (about 10 days), you may check the status of your request by e-mail through our NPRC Customer Service Center at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide the request number if you have one, the name, address and phone number of the requester, and the veteran's branch of service to aid us to finding your request in our system. You will receive a return e-mail from us with a projected completion date for your request.
You may also telephone the NPRC Customer Service Line (this is a long-distance call for most customers): 314-801-0800
Note: Our peak calling times are weekdays between 10:00 am CST and 3:00 pm CST. Staff is available to take your call as early as 7:00 am and as late as 5:00 pm cst.
Other potential methods to obtain your records include writing a letter, visiting the NPRC, contacting your state or county, or hiring an independent researcher. See Other Methods to Obtain your Military Service Records for more details.
NOTE: Some companies advertise DD Form 214 research services and will charge a fee for obtaining copies. This is provided as a free service by the National Archives and Records Administration.
Special Note on Contacting by E-mail: Requests for military personnel records or information from them cannot be accepted by e-mail at this time. The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. 552a) and Department of Defense directives require a written request, signed and dated, to access information from military personnel records. Our e-mail address should only be used only to request general information (hours of operations, procedures and forms) or to submit compliments, complaints or concerns.
NOTE: If you send messages using WebTV or a free-email service, you will not receive our response if your mailbox is full. Messages sent to full mailboxes are returned to us as "undeliverable." You may wish to include your mailing address in your message so that we may respond via the U.S. Postal Service.
Limited information from Official Military Personnel Files is releasable to the general public without the consent of the veteran or the next-of-kin. You are considered a member of the general public if you are asking about a veteran who is no relation to you, or a veteran who is a relative but you are not the next-of-kin. Next-of-kin is defined as the unremarried widow or widower, son or daughter, father or mother, brother or sister of the deceased veteran.
See Access to Military Records by the General Public and Researchers for details on how to request service records.