Veterans need a copy of their military discharge papers in order to qualify for a VA loan. It shows the lender your eligibility for the loan. It also allows the lender to apply for your Certificate of Entitlement on your behalf. If you don’t have your papers, there are several ways you can obtain them.
The easiest way to get your discharge papers is to apply online. Visit the National Archives website to start the process. As you work your way through the questions, you’ll see that you need the following information:
- Veteran’s name
- Veteran’s service number
- Veteran’s social security number
- Dates of service
- Branch of service you served
- The service component you served (active or reserves)
- Whether you were an officer or enlisted
- The reason for your request
If you don’t want to send your request in online, you can complete Form SF-180 and mail it to the following address:
National Personnel Records Center
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63132
If you cannot get access to the form online, you can contact your local VA office for a mailed copy of the form.
If you prefer to fax your request, you’ll use the same method, completing Form SF-180, but instead of mailing it, you can fax it. This can cut some of the delay in processing your request out since the form will be received instantly via fax.
If you prefer to fax the form, use fax number 314-801-9049.
Use an Expedited Service
Finally, if you are in a hurry and cannot wait the potential 90 days for your discharge papers, you can use an expedited service. You’ll pay a premium for the service, but the representative requests your papers for you in person. This cuts out the waiting time that you would experience with any of the above methods. The representative then sends the documents via overnight or express mail, getting you the documents you need within a matter of days rather than months.
What Do the Discharge Papers Contain?
The discharge papers, also known as DD Form 214, document your military service. They serve as proof that you served. It is a vital piece of information when determining your eligibility for the VA loan. Because you need a specific amount of time served depending on the time of your service, you’ll need this paper to prove you are eligible for the loan. For example:
- If you served during peacetime, you’ll need at least 181 days of consecutive service
- If you served during wartime, you’ll need at least 90 days of consecutive service
- If you served in the reserves, you’ll need at least 6 years of service
The discharge papers are an essential part of your VA benefits, so knowing how to get them will help you in the end. If you lose your papers, you can also request a duplicate copy of them with these methods.