Keep your DD Form 214

  • Published
  • By Ms. Belinda Ann
  • Headquarters Air Reserve Personnel Center

It has been said that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.

As the Board for Correction of Military Records Program Manager for the Air Reserve Personnel Center, I think about this proverb daily. Every time I work a request from a Veteran, I wish I could have counseled that person 20 years ago about the importance of not losing their Department of Defense Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. I have finally decided to plant the seed today, even though I know it will not help me today as a program manager. Rather, the goal is to eliminate family pain and grief in the future.

The number one most requested personnel document from an Air Force Reservist, Air National Guard Member, or their families, is a DD Form 214. It is an afterthought, much like a beautiful tree, until they realize they need it for more than just a decorative certificate.

If there was only one piece of advice I could give all service members and veterans, it is to ensure they never lose their DD Form 214. For Reserve and Guard members, they may have more than one DD Form 214. Keep all of them! Make several copies. Give them to your spouse and children. Place a copy with your will. Keep copies in a fire-proof safe. File them with your local county courthouse. Keep them in a safety deposit box. Shoot, frame it and hang it on your wall so that your family does not have to tear the house apart looking for it.

A DD Form 214 provides invaluable benefits to veterans, often pay-impacting for them and their families.

Some benefits include:

- Department of Veterans Affairs services, such as medical/health, disability, women’s, burial, homelessness and home loan services
- State VA services, such as veterans license plates, veterans driver’s licenses and property/state tax exemption services (every state is different)
- Civil service assignments, veteran preferences, military buyback towards civilian retirement and additional civilian leave earnings
- Companies that hire veterans
- Military discounts with many businesses

I have received requests from young families seeking a VA home loan, veterans as old as 100 seeking medical help from the VA, and family members who want to provide an honorable burial service for their loved one. These requests are time sensitive and if ARPC does not have their record, it could take veterans up to 30 days to locate it. For cases like these, that is unacceptable.

ARPC only maintains records for currently serving members and retirees. For veterans who separated before October 1, 2014, their records are archived at the National Personnel Records Center. They may start a request online at Unfortunately, if a veteran was discharged between September 25, 1947, to January 1, 1964, about 75 percent of those records were lost due to a disastrous fire on July 12, 1973. I only mention this because if history teaches us anything, it is to ensure we never lose our DD Form 214.

For all currently serving members and veterans discharged after October 1, 2014, there is a VA website,, where they can request military records, including a DD Form 214. When I used this website to request my DD Form 214s, I was able to download them within 20 minutes of my request.

The selfishness in me would love to reduce my BCMR cases today. But more importantly, ARPC is responsible for providing world-class support for generations of Airmen throughout the Airman lifecycle. Take the time today to find a safe place for your DD Form 214. And also plant a tree!