DD 214

What is a DD 214?

A DD 214 (or, officially, the “DD 214–Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty”) is the document issued upon a military service member’s separation from active duty service in the United States Armed Forces.

What is the purpose of the DD 214?

The DD 214 contains information needed by government agencies and private entities for verifying post-military-service benefits, employment qualifications, and membership eligibility in various veterans’ organizations.

What kinds of information does the DD 214 include?

The DD 214 includes date and place of active duty enlistment, final place of duty and duty assignment, final rank, military occupational specialty (MOS), military education and training, total present and prior active duty service (stateside and overseas), decorations, medals, citations, awards, and specializations, and–most prominently-separation information.

The separation information on a DD 214 includes the historical reason, reenlistment code (RE-Code), separation code (SPN-Code), and character of service determination, which can be honorable, General–under honorable conditions, other than honorable (OTH), bad conduct, dishonorable, or uncharacterized. The DD 214 is the primary proof-of-military-service document. It functions as the final master brief sheet of exactly what you did while in the military.

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DD 214 History

Before 1950, the individual branches of the United States Armed Forces issued their separate forms of discharge.1 Since the earlier forms differed between branches, the Department of Defense (DOD) implemented the DD 214 to serve as a consistent, standardized certificate of military service that all veterans receive. It allows the DOD to maintain records with greater accuracy, and veterans to have their relevant military service information in one easily accessible document. Since employers often seek the DD 214, veteran’s organizations, and law enforcement agencies for verifying veteran’s preference eligibility, it is a good idea to have an official copy of the DD 214 on hand when applying to those entities.

DD 214 Value

Military veterans are required to provide a copy of the DD 214 to apply for federal and state veteran’s benefits, veteran’s employment preferences, and veteran’s health care through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA).

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