All military retirees and Honorably Discharged veterans should ensure that their family knows the location of their military Separation Document (DD Form 214 from 1950 to present and WD (War Department) Form 53-55 and other variations prior to 1950).
It is important to properly store this important document so it can be readily found when needed. Some suggestions are:
- Fire safe in a secure location of the house (not in the bedroom, as this is where most thieves search first). Be sure spouse/NOK knows the location and has key/combination.
- In the refrigerator in a watertight food container (Glad, Tupperware. etc.). Most refrigerators are fire resistant. Additionally, a refrigerator is heavy enough to fall through the floor of a building into the cooler part of the fire in the basement and better survive. Finally, a refrigerator is large enough to be easily located in the ash and ruble of a fire or other serious incident. (As a bonus, everyone has a refrigerator, not everyone has a fire resistant storage box).
If you don’t know where your military separation papers are, you can request a copy from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)1 by submitting a request on-line (the preferred method) or by mail.
The web-based application will provide better service on these requests by eliminating our mailroom processing time. You may access this application here.
If you do not wish to use the Internet, you should mail Standard Form 180 (SF-180) to the National Personnel Records Center at:
National Personnel Records Center
1 Archives Drive
St Louis, MO 63138-1002
1 NOTE: Missing Coast Guard and Merchant Marines papers should be applied for with form DD2168 through the Department of Defense (not through St. Louis).
The Department of Veterans Affairs does not maintain records of veterans’ military service, except as is necessary for providing benefits.
- Posted by Carol Culley