Getting Your Military Personnel Records

The most basic record that every Veteran needs is a copy of his or her DD 214, Report of Transfer or Discharge, which gives the VA, government agencies, and employers almost anything they need. (Other documents are acquired using these same directions.)

In addition to your DD 214, it's helpful, informative, and enlightening to get your old military personnel records jacket (MPRJ), which contains copies of orders, evaluation reports, and many of the other documents that were in your active duty personnel file.

The good news is that you can get them from the same place at the same time.

The bad news is that our government has moved this stuff around a lot over the years and there is a lot of outdated information on the Internet about how to go about it.

The better news is:

1. You can request your records online by going to: http://www.archives.gov/veterans/.

                  OR

2. You can download the Standard Form 180 (SF180), fill it out, and either fax or mail it in.

Some say it can take months to get your records. It took me about three weeks.

In addition to collecting your records for benefits purposes, you can also use them to help clarify those foggy memories. Orders in your MPRJ contain lots of useful information, including:

  • Names of others in your unit who were getting awards, promotions, MOS changes, reassignments, etcetera, on the same day you were.

  • Dates of assignments, TDY, etcetera.

  • Names...oh, I mentioned that. You can use the names in these orders to help others from your old unit build (or expand) any unit roster that's on a Website or mailing list.

Good hunting!