How Do You Get Your Father's Military Service Record?

Written by micah mcdunnigan
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How Do You Get Your Father's Military Service Record?
Copies of service records can be requested from the National Archives. (file image by Byron Moore from

The reasons people want to access the service record of a parent vary from simple curiosity to a need for documentation to claim benefits from their parent's service. Regardless of the reason, The National Archives stores these records and offers a process whereby veterans or, if they have died, their next of kin, can request service records. The "DD Form 214" is the service-record document most commonly requested to verify a veteran's service in claiming benefits. The form can include information related to a veteran's decorations, the specifics of his service, and the nature of his discharge. This process can also be used to request medical records or all the documents in the veteran's file. You can make your request by either method listed below: filling out a paper form yourself, or using an online tool to generate a request for you.

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  1. 1

    Log on to the National Archives web portal for requesting military service records.

  2. 2

    Click on the appropriate link to download a form SF-180. Print the form and fill it out with the appropriate information. The bottom of the form will ask for the veteran's signature. If the veteran is not living, you will need to attach a death certificate.

  3. 3

    Turn to the last page of the SF-180, and you will find a matrix to locate the address where the veteran's records are being stored. Mail the paperwork and any supporting documentation to this address. The request will take a few weeks to process.

  1. 1

    Log on to the National Archives web portal for requesting veteran's records. To use the online tool to generate your request, called "eVetRecs", click on the link that says "launch eVetRecs". The tool will launch in a new window on your web browser. Note that you must be either the veteran in question or the next of kin to use this tool.

  2. 2

    Answer the series of questions that the tool will ask you. They will include identifying information about the veteran in question, such as date of birth and Social Security Number, and what information you are requesting from the veteran's records.

  3. 3

    Print the generated request, sign where necessary, attach any necessary supporting documentation, and mail it to the address the system will provide. As with the SF-180, allow a few weeks for your request to be processed.

Tips and warnings

  • --Both the eVetRecs system and the SF-180 will ask why you are requesting the records. Filling out this information can help you receive the information you want when your request is processed, and can sometimes help speed up the priority of your request.
  • --On the eVetRecs system, when it asks what information you are requesting, it will only allow you to click one box. If you are interested in multiple items, simply click the box for the one you are most interested in, and then use the "Comments" field on the next page to list your other items of interest.
  • If you are filing a SF-180 form requesting the records of a deceased veteran, and you are not a next of kin, then the National Archives will decide which parts of the record to release to you. This is in the interest of balancing freedom of information with a veteran's family's right to privacy. There may also be a fee associated with requesting the records of a deceased veteran under these circumstances. There is no fee for a veteran requesting his own records or his next of kin requesting his records.

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