Veterans and Families Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How can I get a copy of my DD Form 214, Report of Separation (or equivalent form)?

The DD Form 214, Report of Separation, is filed in the official military personnel file. Complete instructions for obtaining a copy of your DD 214 may be found under How to Request Military Service Records or Prove Military Service.

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2. There is an ongoing "myth" that "10 million medical records" were found. Are these duplicates of the records that were burned?

No, they are not duplicate records. This source of records contains approximately 7.8 million summaries for admissions to medical treatment facilities. They contain limited medical information which may be sufficient to support certain claims for veterans' benefits. Alternate sources used to reconstruct service and medical information lost in the 1973 fire at NPRC (MPR) contains a more detailed explanation of these records.

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3. How can I get my medals or those of my family?

NPRC (MPR) does not issue service medals; that is a function of each military service department. Nevertheless, veterans may request issuance or replacement of their medals and awards. Family members may only request medals and awards of living veterans by obtaining their signed authorizations. For deceased veterans, requests will be accepted from next-of-kin (unremarried widow or widower, son or daughter, father or mother, brother or sister of the deceased veteran). Military Awards and Decorations contains instructions and addresses for submitting requests. A sample authorization is also included for review.

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4. What form do I use to request information from military service records?

We recommend that you use Standard Form (SF) 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records. Instructions for obtaining a copy are available through Services Available to the Public and Government Agencies. Instructions are also available for submitting a request in letter format, if desired.

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5. My great grandfather served in the Civil War (Revolutionary War, War of 1812, etc.) How do I obtain information concerning his military service?

Generally, military service records prior to the 20th century are in the National Archives Building, Washington, D.C. More information is available under Genealogy Research in Military Records .

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6. How can I locate someone who is currently serving on active duty in the armed forces?

We receive records of former military members only after they have been separated (discharged, released, retired, etc.) from the military service. Therefore, we are unable to provide locator service on members still serving on active duty. Each military service has an office which deals with the world-wide location of active service personnel. See Locating Veterans and Service Members for links to military locator services.

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7. How can I get an address roster to get in touch with old service buddies?

We cannot release personal information about a veteran, and we lack the resources and current information to forward letters or correspondence to veterans. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs and certain military branches may be able forward some messages to veterans or active service personnel. See Locating Veterans and Service Members for links to veterans locator services.

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8. How do I apply for my Cold War Recognition Certificate?

This Center will, upon request, provide copies of DD 214's and other separation documents, as appropriate, to authorized requesters. Complete instructions for obtaining a copy of your DD 214 may be found under How to Request Military Service Records or Prove Military Service. These documents may be used to apply for the certificate. However, this center does not have the application form available, nor will we be able to supply the Certificate itself. For more information concerning the application process visit the Cold War Recognition Certificate web page.

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9. I've heard that NPRC will be scanning my military records and destroying the original documents, and that I can have the paper file if I request it. Is that true?

No, NPRC does not intend to destroy paper Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs). We are expanding our use of information technology for request and record tracking, but the purpose of any electronic scanning will be to reduce the handling of fragile records during the reference process or to reduce the time necessary to locate an OMPF. It is our responsibility to preserve and protect the Official Military Personnel Files, as they are permanently valuable records documenting the essential evidence of military service for the veterans of our nation. We will send only photocopies of documents when we respond to requests.

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10. Are military personnel and health records stored at any locations other than NPRC?

Yes. The various locations of military personnel and health records are listed under Location of Military Service Records, according to branch of service, current status, and applicable dates.

11. How do I get a blueprint, plan, or drawing for a military vehicle such as a ship, plane, or tank?

The National Archives holds over 15 million maps, charts, aerial photographs, architectural drawings, patents, and ships plans, constituting one of the world's largest accumulations of such documents. These holdings are arranged in 190 record groups, which reflect the origins of the records in specific federal departments and agencies. For information on accessing these types of materials please refer to the Cartographic and Architectural Records page . Some materials may also be available online and are listed under Online Documents for Veterans.

12. How do I get casualty information for various wars?

Some Casualty Records are available for the Vietnam Conflict, the Korean War, and World War II. Sources of casualty information for other wars are listed under Information on Specific Wars in our Research area.

13. Can I get a list of soldiers who fought in the xxx War, from my city/state/etc.?

The Military Resources page within the Research section provides information on the National Archives' holdings and links to other web sites where this information can be found. Casualty Reports and some Enlistment records are also listed under Online Documents for Veterans.

14. What military records would be useful for genealogical research?

Military service records, military pensions records, and bounty land warrants would all be useful. Genealogy Research in Military Records should be one of your first stops.

15. Where can I call for help or immediate assistance?

For general inquiries, please call us toll free at:

1-866-272-6272 or 1-86-NARA-NARA

TDD lines: For College Park, MD: 301-837-0482

Fax: 301-837-0483

For Military Service Record requests, contact the National Personnel Records Center:

Telephone: 314-801-0800 (This is a toll call for most customers)

Special Note on Calling by Phone: If you have already submitted a request and need to know its status you may speak to a Customer Service Representative. 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 7:30 am and as late as 5:00 pm cst. This number will allow you to hold until a technician is available to help you.

Fax: 314-801-9195

For other Veterans-related Questions, you may wish to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs:

Telephone: 1-800-827-1000

TDD: 1-800-829-4833

16. How can I learn about benefits for dependents and families?

A variety of important benefits and services are available to veterans and to their families, survivors and next-of-kin from the Department of Veterans Affairs and other agencies. While the National Archives does not provide these benefits, we can help you obtain the copies of Military Service Records or other proof of service which you'll need to prove eligibility. See also Services and Resources For Veterans' Families, Dependents and Next-of-Kin

17. How does the National Archives protect the privacy of veterans records?

The National Archives values the privacy of our veterans very highly and we actively protect their files stored here from disclosure to unauthorized individuals. Read more about the Privacy and Security of Veterans and Military Personnel Records at the National Archives.

The agency which recently inadvertently compromised veterans' data was the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA has set up a manned call center that veterans may call to get information about this situation and learn more about consumer identity protections. That toll-free number is 1-800-FED INFO (333-4636) and will operate from 8 am to 9 pm (EDT), Monday-Saturday as long as it is need