What is a DD214?

The DD214 is a document issued by the Defense Department (DD), at the completion of a service member’s term of service in the United States military. As its full title implies, the “DD Form 214–Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty,” is only issued to document release or discharge from active duty military service, so it is not issued to reservists or members of the Air National Guard (ANG), or Army Reserve National Guard (ARNG). Reservists and service members of the ANG or ARNG receive distinct military discharge documents, but not DD214’s.

Were DD214’s issued for veterans of World War II?

The new Defense Department replaced the predecessor agency–the more frankly-named “War Department,” in 1947. Therefore, because there was no Defense Department at the time, DD214’s were not issued to active duty military veterans of World War II. Service members discharged from active duty service during, or at the conclusion of, World War II, received various separation documents issued by the War Department, Adjutant General’s Office (WD-AGO), and the Department of the Navy (NAVPERS) but not DD214’s. The first DD214’s were issued in the early 1950’s.

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Has the DD214 been revised over time?

DD214’s have gone through several revisions over the years. Earlier versions of the form titled “DD Form 214–Report of Separation from Active Duty,” were revised in the late 1970’s, to the present “DD214–Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.” Because DD214’s are only issued to document “Release or Discharge from Active Duty,” they are not created to document the death of a service member on active duty (because they are not formally discharged or released). A “Report of Casualty” is issued to document a death while on active duty, but not a DD214.

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