Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Aardvark Research is a legitimate business that has been providing expedited DD214’s to military service members since 2007. We are based in St. Louis, Missouri, and have been authorized researchers at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), which is in St. Louis, for over 15 years. We are able to walk-in to the NPRC and request your records in-person at the NPRC Research Room. In-person requests are processed as high-priority requests, meaning we get them faster than requests submitted through the public channels.
This can get complicated, because there are many variables, but in general here are the rules:
1. Military Records are ONLY releasable to the veteran, so long as the veteran is living. It doesn’t matter if you are the spouse, attorney, real estate agent, or that the veteran is incapacitated, in a coma, suffering from dementia, Alzheimers or anything else–and yes, if you claim that the veteran is deceased, you will be asked to prove it.
2. If you have General Power of Attorney (POA), for a living veteran, then yes, you can order and receive their records. You will be asked to submit the POA and the archives will scrutinize it to make sure it is acceptable and valid. A Financial POA or Medical POA will not work.
3. If the veteran is deceased, military records are releasable only to the Next-Of-Kin (NOK). The NOK category includes the veteran’s mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, and un-remarried spouse. Once again, you will be asked to provide proof that the veteran is deceased, and you may be asked to prove your NOK relationship to the veteran.
4. All of the above rules only apply to records that are less than 62 years old. Military records are protected from release for 62 years from the date of discharge or separation. After 62 years the record becomes public, and although parts of it may be redacted, in general, anyone can view, copy and retain it. So, World War II records are open to the public, as are some Korean War era records, and every day more records reach the 62 year threshold, and become public documents.
Yes. You will get 2 long-form copies of your original DD214. They will show the “Narrative Reason for Separation,” your “Character of Service,” and your RE and SPN Codes. They are legal documents, and can be used for any official purpose. DD214’s are authenticated in various ways. The Navy places the words “Official Record Copy” into the paper of the DD214–they do not stamp them with a seal. The National Archives stamps them with the seal of the federal government. The USCG signs the DD214’s as “certified true copies” Each agency or records repository authenticates them in their own way.
Maybe. At separation or ETS the service branch creates multiple copies of the DD214. If the service member requests copies of the DD214, they are given a long and a short copy of the DD214–called Member copies 1 and 4 (because they are given to the service “member”). If the service member is given the “member” copies, the service branch then retires the service copies, usually the service copy 2, to the personnel file, and these will be the copies available for certification and delivery. They are carbon-copies of the “member” copy 4 and can be used for any official purpose. If the service member does not request the copy 4, then it is retired to the personnel file also, and we would be able to provide certified copies of this document to you when you order.
Your payment to us consists of a search/processing fee and a document delivery fee. The search/processing fee is $39, which covers our time processing your request, looking you up at the National Archives, searching for your serial number etc. This fee is non-refundable unless you cancel your order within 1 hour of placing it. Our refund policy is that if we can’t help you, whatever the reason, we will refund you the entirety of your payment, minus the $39 processing fee.
Since our business is based on delivering your records as quickly as possible, we typically start working on your request very soon after you order. Once we have completed the search for your records and ordered them, a good portion of our work is done. If you cancel by emailing or messaging us through our website within 1 hour of ordering, we will give you a full refund. If you cancel more than 1 hour after you order, because we have already expended time and effort locating your records, we will refund your payment in full minus our $39 processing fee. Funeral or burial requests can not be cancelled. Fire-related requests can not be cancelled. Once your records have shipped, of course, you cannot cancel, and no refunds can be given.
This one is simple. When you order from us your payment consists of a processing fee and a document fee. The processing fee is $39, which covers our time searching for the location of your record, placing the order for it etc. The remainder of your payment is the document delivery fee. Our Money Back Guarantee is that if we can’t access your record and deliver your documents, whatever the reason, no matter how much time we have spent searching for it, we will refund your payment amount, minus our $39 processing fee.
We order our records first-thing in the morning, every morning, Monday through Friday. This means that, in general, your record will be ordered on the day following your request through our website. For example, if you ordered your records through our website at 2:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time on Monday, we would submit your request the following morning, on Tuesday. Likewise, if you order through our website on Friday at 11:00 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, we would submit the request for your records first-thing in the morning on Monday. Since all of our requests are made through government agencies, like the National Archives, Department of the Army etc, our Turnaround Times only count business days–government offices are typically closed on weekends, so no work gets done, and we don’t count those days in our estimates. Some records do take longer than 7 business days–the details are on the Turnaround Times page of our website.
In short, no, we can’t guarantee that we will find it. We can only guarantee that we will look for it, and give you a refund minus our processing fee if we can’t find it. Occasionally we come across customers who have been trying unsuccessfully to find their DD214’s for the past 25 years. They have been told by the National Archives, the VA, and everyone else they have asked, that their record is lost, or damaged, or was destroyed in the 1973 fire. These fine customers hire us to find their DD214’s and think that because they have paid our $89 fee, we can somehow force the government or the military or the VA to produce the DD214, which has been lost since 1942. These wonderful customers are invariably upset with us when we give them the bad news, that the DD214 is still lost, has been lost for 25 years, and that no force short of a miracle from God can produce it, because damn-it, they have paid the $89 and want the DD214 that we “promised” to produce. This FAQ is for them, because although we have produced several hundred thousand DD214’s for our customers over the past 15 years, we cannot guarantee that we will find yours, especially if it has been lost for 25 years, or was never created in the first place, because you served in the Army Reserve, while DD214’s are only created to document separation from active duty.
Of course not. We are only researchers. We can only provide you with copies of whatever is in your personnel file. We have had nothing to do with generating your retirement points, adding them up, compiling them into a summary etc and we can do nothing about mistakes on them. If you think there is an error, an inaccuracy or an injustice, again, this is between you and the military. We can give you advice, point you in the right direction, even provide you with the name and number of whoever is up the chain of command on your issue, but we can not force the military or federal government to do anything. Usually the Points Statements are in order, but if they aren’t, it is not our fault, or our responsibility, and we can’t guarantee anything except that we will provide you with the points that exist in your military personnel file as quickly as that possibly can be done. This same caveat applies to DD214’s and any other record you request from us–we didn’t make them, and we aren’t responsible for the accuracy of them. This is between you and the branch of service you were in.
Yes. We can get your points statements as long as they are actually in the personnel file. When you fill out our online order form you will be asked which document(s) you would like to order. The first option is to order just your DD214. The second option is to order “Other Documents.” If you check the box to order “Other Documents,” a dialogue box will open, and you can type in whatever it is you want to order, whether that is your Points Statements, NGB22, or whatever. However, we cannot copy entire personnel files, or do extensive or detailed research through the expedited process that we use. We are limited to copying DD214’s separation documents, orders, points statements, and other simple, single-page documents like the enlistment contract etc.
Unfortunately, no. We are limited in the documents that we can provide under the expedited process that we use. In general, we can provide DD214’s, NGB22’s, various other separation documents, and other single-page documents like orders, enlistment contracts etc. Requests that require detailed research, or extensive copying have to be made through the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.
The Low Price Guarantee is simple–we will beat any competitor’s price, for comparable service, by 10%. Just call us with the price, and if we can confirm it, we will beat it by 10%. This guarantee applies to competitors who order your records in-person as we do, and deliver Certified Copies of your DD214’s on an expedited basis.
Customers can pay with any credit or debit card through the website and online ordering process. For our customers who prefer a low-tech option, simply download, print, and sign the order form and fax it it in to us, and we will run your card and email you a payment receipt. The downloadable order form is available along the top of the Home Page. Our fax number is on the form.
The simplest way to order is to use our online order form. Customers fill-out the form on our website, sign it electronically using their mouse, complete payment using a credit/debit card and then submit the completed order form by clicking the “submit” button. Once we receive the completed order forms, we order the personnel file, copy and certify the DD214’s and get them out to you via email and/or U.S. Postal Service mail.
Almost all routine requests are completed within 7 business days. Since we are dealing with government agencies, and lots of variable factors, there are exceptions. Some National Guard records take longer than 7 business days–the specifics depend on the year of discharge, state you were discharged from, and physical location of the record. If you have incomplete or inaccurate information, this can cause the process to slow down. If you served prior to 1970 and do not have the serial/service number, for example, this can cause the process to slow down while we search for that number, and finally, if your records are fire-related–were burned in the 1973 fire at the National Archives, this can cause a considerable delay in the research process. We will always give you an honest assessment of how long the process will take, and will keep you informed as the search occurs, but again, well over 95% of all requests are completed within 7 business days.
Maybe. You would need to call or text us with the specifics of your situation before we would know for sure. Ordinarily only one order can be processed at a time, but we have ways to bypass that problem.
Every decision we have made about the way our business operates has been made with customer security as a primary concern. Firstly, our website is protected by industry-standard SSL Encryption Technology. Any transaction processed on our website is as safe as an online banking transaction. Secondly, we will never share or release your personal information to anyone other than our researchers and the National Archives or government agency in possession of your records. Finally, we have been approved by the National Archives and Records Administration to provide research services at the National Archives. You can find us on the National Archives Researchers for Hire list. Careless, unethical, or unscrupulous operators are removed from the approved researchers list. Your physical order forms are kept secured in our office, and are shredded at secure government shredding stations every month.
Yes. We obtain the paper copies directly from your personnel file, but we can bring them back to our office and scan and email them to you. If you need an emailed copy just choose the Express Service option when you are given this choice at checkout. Certified paper copies are always mailed via first class mail free of charge.
I Was in the Navy, the Army Reserve and the National Guard–will you get all of my DD214's for the one price?
In general, each branch of the military requires a separate search, and thus a separate payment. In some cases we can access multiple documents from a single personnel file, and in this case there is no additional charge. Call us to discuss the particular situation. We are an honest business and not in the practice of trying to extract every dime we can get from our customers. If we can access your Army National Guard Discharge (NGB Form 22) and your DD214 from the same personnel file, we will not charge you an additional fee. If your records are in distinct locations, requiring distinct searches then we may. We handle these on a case by case basis and will let you know if there is an additional charge.