One of the more common questions on History Hub is how to request a Department of Defense Form 214 (DD214):Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty or a Report of Separation, a complete Official Military Personnel File (OMPF), and a service person’s medical records.
The difference between the DD214/Report of Separation and the OMPF is that the DD214/Report of Separation is a “snapshot” of the veteran’s career. It also identifies the condition of the veteran’s discharge be it honorable, general, other than honorable, dishonorable or bad conduct. The DD214/Report of Separation also shows if the veteran served overseas and if they served in armed combat.
- Date And Place Of Entry Into Active Duty
- Home Address At Time Of Entry
- Date And Place Of Release From Active Duty
- Home Address After Separation
- Last Duty Assignment And Rank
- Military Job Specialty
- Military Education
- Decorations, Medals, Badges, Citations, And Campaign Awards
- Total Creditable Service
- Foreign Service Credited
- Separation Information (Type Of Separation, Character Of Service, Authority And Reason For Separation, Separation And Reenlistment Eligibility Codes)
The Report of Separation was replaced on January 1, 1950 with the current DD Form 214. The two documents are similar by summarizing the service member’s career.
Some of the shortcomings of the DD214/Reports of Separation is that they sometimes list the last unit assigned prior to separation, which is likely not the unit the veteran served with during combat. And for others, they may list a number of assignments from training to the last unit assigned, but do not associate dates with those assignments. The Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) is usually recommended in order to get these kinds of details.
The OMPF is primarily an administrative record, containing information about the subject's service history such as: date and type of enlistment/appointment; duty stations and assignments; training, qualifications, performance; awards and decorations received; disciplinary actions; insurance; emergency data; administrative remarks; date and type of separation/discharge/retirement, and other personnel actions.
For the service records of the different naval and military services, there are different periods of availability. For periods before the earliest dates listed for a military service should be located at the National Archives in Washington, DC. And for periods after the latest dates listed would still be located with the creating military agency.
What is available at the National Personnel Record Center (NPRC) in St. Louis for enlisted and officers of the military services are the following:
For the U. S. Navy, Enlisted Personnel who were separated from the service after 1885 and prior to February 1, 1994 and Officers of the U. S. Navy who were separated from service after 1902 and prior to February 1, 1994.
For the U. S. Marine Corps, Officers and Enlisted Personnel who were separated from service after 1904 and prior to January 1, 1999.
For the U. S. Coast Guard Officers and Enlisted personnel who were separated from the service after January 1, 1898, and prior to April 1, 1998.
For the U. S. Army, Enlisted Personnel of the U.S. Army who were separated from the service after October 31, 1912 and prior to October 2002 and for Officers who were separated from the service after June 30, 1917 and prior to October 2002.
For the U. S. Air Force, Enlisted Personnel and Officers separated after 1956 and prior to October 1, 2004.
To request a DD214/Report of Separation or an Official Military Personnel File (OMPF), you request using either the online form, eVetRecs or you can download a Standard Form 180: Request for Military Service Records (SF-180) that you can either mail or fax into the National Military Personnel Record Center. If you are requesting an OMPF, then in Section II, on the line for "Other" (Specify), write "Complete copy of every page of personnel file - not an extract."
The 1973 fire at the National Military Personnel Record Center affected a majority of the personnel files from the Army including some of the Army Air Force up to 1959 and the Air Force up to 1963, as well as some of the specially reserved personnel files from all services. For more information on the 1973 fire, including estimates of which records were affected, please see our The 1973 Fire, National Personnel Records Center webpage.
When proof of military service is needed, NPRC attempts to reconstruct certain basic service data from alternate sources. For more information on these alternate sources, please visit our Other Methods to Obtain Military Service Records webpage. You can request NPRC to attempt to reconstruct records by using eVetRecs or the SF-180. Use the notes section to state you are requesting a reconstruction.