A DD 214 is an essential document to get a certificate of eligibility, which is your key to enjoying the VA home loan benefit. This form is basically your proof that you joined and served in the Armed Forces of the United States. Find out what’s in a DD Form 214 and how you can obtain a copy of it.
First off, what is a COE?
VA loans require a Certificate of Eligibility, which verifies your eligibility for a VA loan. The COE can be obtained by logging onto https://vip.vba.va.gov. There are instances however when a COE can’t be issued because of incomplete information.
At this juncture, you will have to apply for a COE on a VA portal and must upload a copy of your DD 214 for your tour of service. Per VA standards, a qualifying tour of service is two years of active duty and honorable discharge. For members of the Reserve and National Guard, this tour of duty is six years.
Specifically, these applicants need a DD 214 as proof of service for COE application purposes:
- Current or former National Guard or Reserve member
Surviving spouses, whether they are receiving Dependency & Indemnity Compensation benefits or not, may submit the DD Form 214, if available, to get a COE.
What’s in a DD Form 214?
VA requires the Form to show the “character of service (Item 24) and the narrative reason for separation (Item 26)”. Basically, the DD 214 contains these pieces of information, as outlined by the National Archives:
- Date and place of your entry into active service.
- Home address at the time of your entry into active service.
- Date and place of release from active duty.
- Home address at the time of your release from active duty.
- Your last military duty assignment and rank.
- Your military job specialty.
- Your military education.
- Your military medals, decorations, citations, and other awards.
- Your total creditable service.
- Your foreign service credited.
- Information relating to your separation from the military.
Where to get a DD 214?
You or your next-of-kin like your surviving spouse can request a copy of a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty online through eVetRecs for free. Access to records for those discharged in 1953 and before requires a copying fee.
You can also mail or fax your duly signed and dated request to where your military service records are located.
The request for DD Form 214 must contain basic information such as your complete name used during the active duty, service number, SS number, and branch and date of service.
If you don’t know your service number, you have to include in your request the date and place of your birth. Also, if you think your records have perished during the 1973 fire, state your place of entry into the service and of discharge, and last unit of assignment.
As you want the DD 214 for your VA loan, it may be best to state this in your request as well as any deadlines relating to your VA loan application.