Can I Get my Uncle’s DD214? Who Can Access Military Records?

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.

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