If you served in the US military after 1974, your military service number would likely be your Social Security number (SSN). You need your ID number to request copies of your military records, including your DD 214.
Your military record will help you obtain Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits and other military services the United States government provides.
What Is the Purpose of a Military Service Number?
All former and current military personnel need their military service number and SSN to request military records or their Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). These records include the following:
- DD 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty)
- DD 215 (Request for correction on DD 214)
- Report of Separation
- Other release documents
Different government branches require a military service number and SSN for military ID cards and Department of Defense (DOD) and VA benefits, including:
- Housing loans and assistance
- Education benefits
- Medical benefits
- Disability compensation
- Burial and funeral compensation
- Career assistance
- Veteran-owned small business support
- Veterans pension program
- Life insurance
- Special benefits (e.g., aviation bonuses for Air Force members)
Visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website at va.gov to view the complete list of benefits available.
Veterans and authorized family members can also request their military service number and other documents that contain information about a veteran’s history, including:
- Orders and endorsements
- Performance reports
- Awards and decorations
- Qualifications, licenses, and certificates
- Security clearance
- Medical records
Is My Military Service Number the Same as my Social Security Number?
If you served before the military’s switch to using SSNs as identification numbers, your military service number is on your DD Form 214.
The military discontinued using service numbers as identifiers on the following dates:
- Army and Air Force – July 1, 1969
- Navy and Marine Corps – January 1, 1972
- Coast Guard – October 1, 1974
If you lost your DD 214, you could request another copy from the NPRC free of charge.
What is the DD Form 214?
The DD-214 is a document that proves discharge from the military. Each service member receives the DD 214 upon discharge. It is either given at the office from which they were discharged or sent by mail.
It contains the following information:
- Discharge status (honorable, dishonorable, general, other than honorable)
- Date and place of entry into duty
- Home address at the time of entry
- Date and place of release from duty
- Home address after separation from the military
- Last rank and duty assignment
- Military education
- Military job specialty (MOS)
- Awards, decorations, badges, citations, and campaign awards
- Total creditable service, both domestic and foreign
- Other separation information (date of separation, the reason for separation, reenlistment eligibility codes, etc.)
Where to Access a Veteran’s Official Military Personnel File (OMPF)
The OMPF contains information about a military member’s history, including separation details (DD 214).
Retired personnel can request copies of DD 214 and other service records from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri.
The NPRC houses over 70 million Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) from the Air Force, Marine Corps, and other branches. These records include DD 214s, DD 215s, and other forms.
Military records before World War I are stored at the National Archives in Washington, DC.
Requesting Records from The National Personnel Records Center
Veterans and authorized representatives can file a military records request online through eVetRecs or mail the Standard Form 180 (SF-180: Request Pertaining to Military Records) to the NPRC. The National Archives in Missouri houses most, but not all, records of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
NPRC Fax Number:
NPRC Mailing Address:
National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138
Who Can Request a Military Service Number and Other Records?
You may request military service documents if you are a veteran or next of kin of a deceased former military member. The next of kin can be:
- A surviving spouse who was not remarried
Records become archival 62 years after the veteran’s separation from the military. Archival records are open to the public.
Requests from the Next of Kin of a Deceased Veteran
If you are the next of kin of a deceased veteran, you must submit proof of the veteran’s death with your request. Acceptable proof includes:
- Death certificate
- Published obituary
- Letter from the funeral home
Requests from Next of Kin of a Living Veteran
The next of kin of a living veteran must obtain authorization to request military records. The authorization must:
- Be in writing
- Include additional information or copies the NPRC may release
- Include the signature of the veteran or next of kin (e.g., surviving spouse or child)
Similarly, family members are not considered next of kin; others need authorization from the veteran (if living) or next of kin to request records from the NPRC unless the veteran’s discharge was 62 years ago.
Without authorization, the NPRC may release limited information from the veteran’s OMPF. If the veteran was discharged more than 62 years ago, their OMPF might be open to the general public.
What Information Do You Need to Obtain a Veteran’s Military Records?
You need the following information to file a military records request:
- The veteran’s complete name as used in duty
- Military service number or Social Security Number (SSN)
- Branch and dates of service
- Date and place of birth
Always include the veteran’s SSN in the request. Include the military service number if the veteran’s discharge date was before the SSN turnover.
On July 12, 1973, a fire at NPRC destroyed an estimated 16 to 19 million OMPF. If you served in the Air Force before 1964 (and your name comes after Hubbard, James E.) or the Army before 1960, there is a high chance your records are gone.
Navy and Marine Corps records were not affected.
If you suspect that your records have been affected by the 1973 fire, you might want to include the following information in your request:
- Place of discharge
- Last duty assignment
- Place of entry into duty, if known
You may also need to provide this information when requesting records before World War I, as these can be difficult to recover.
How Long Do You Have to Wait for Your Military Personnel Records?
The average turnaround time for record requests is six to eight weeks, excluding the time it would take for your documents to reach the NPRC by mail.
Your request may take longer or shorter, depending on its complexity, the records’ availability, and the volume of current submissions.
The NPRC may expedite the delivery of records in an emergency, such as a funeral or surgery. If this is the case, indicate your request as urgent in the Comments section of the eVetRecs Form or the “Purpose” section of SF-180 (Request Pertaining to Military Records). You may receive a response in 1 to 5 days.
If your request involves the internment of a veteran at a Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery, call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at (800) 535-1117. They work with the NPRC to expedite deliveries of records in emergencies.
Do You Need to Pay For a DD-214?
Generally, requesting copies of records from World War II to the present is free. However, there is a fee for military records with discharge dates more than 62 years ago and records during or before World War I.
The fees for archival requests are as follows:
- A routine OMPF of 5 pages or less: $25 flat fee
- A routine OMPF of 6 pages or more: $70 flat fee (most OMPFs fall in this category)
- Persons of Exceptional Prominence (PEP) OMPF: $.80 per page ($20 minimum)
The NPRC will notify you if your request requires a fee.
How Can You Check the Status of Your Request?
Allow the National Personnel Records Center enough time to receive and process your request. Afterward, you can check your status online on eVetRecs using your request number.
If you do not know your request number, use the Online Status Update Request form on the National Archives official site and provide the following information:
- The name, address, and phone number of the requester
- The veteran’s branch of service; this information can help staff find the request on the NPRC online system
You can also call NPRC Customer Services at 314-801-0800. Avoid checking the status of your request until 90 days have passed to avoid further delays.
Other Ways to Request Your Military Record
Submitting a request by mail is the best way to obtain military records. However, you can also:
- Write a letter to the NPRC
- Contact or visit your state or county veterans’ services branch
Veterans or their representatives can also visit the NPRC to obtain the SF-180 and request or reconstruct destroyed records.
How to Protect Your Personal Information
A request for military records will contain sensitive information. Protect your privacy by avoiding companies that offer to submit your request on your behalf with the promise of obtaining records faster.
If you or your retired family member cannot do the process yourself, enlist the services of a lawyer. Furthermore, ensure you use the official eVetRecs site when filing a request online.
The United States government phased out military service number identification in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Service members who enlisted after the change now use their SSNs as identification numbers.
Active and retired personnel need these numbers to obtain their service records and, in turn, receive the benefits available to them.