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Virginia Beach Estate Planning Lawyer / Blog / Veteran's Benefits / How to Obtain Veteran Service Records

How to Obtain Veteran Service Records

You’ve decided to apply for veteran’s benefits for yourself or your spouse. Or you’re helping Dad or Mom get VA Aid and Attendance benefits. Now what? The process can be confusing, but the one of the first (and most important) steps you can take is to obtain a certified copy of your veteran’s service records. These records will not only help you make sure your veteran is eligible for benefits, but they are required documentation that the VA will need to process your application. Having your DD-214 or other discharge paperwork ahead of time can greatly speed up the process. Also, when applying for veteran’s benefits, the VA will want an original or certified copy of the veteran’s discharge paperwork. If you do not have the original, or if you don’t want to send it to the VA (although they will return it to you once the application process is complete), then requesting a certified copy is the best solution.

One way to get this process started is to obtain free copies of the veteran’s DD-214 (the record of their separation from the military) and other military records through the eVetRecs system. The website is http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/.

Another way to obtain military records is to fill out Standard Form 180 (SF-180), which you can download from the following website: http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/standard-form-180.html. Once you have filled out this form and signed it, you must mail it to the location indicated on Page 2 of the form that corresponds to the location of the record you need. If applying for the records of a deceased veteran, please remember to include a death certificate with the application.

Even if you’re not sure if you want to move forward with applying for veteran’s benefits, it is always best to be prepared. The day you are ready to file the application is not the time to realize that you can’t find Dad’s DD-214 that you thought was in his safe. Being prepared ahead of time will allow you to avoid costly delays.

A final word of caution: There is no cost to request certified copies of military records. Some internet sites are claiming to get the records quickly for a small fee. These companies do not have any inside way to request records quicker than you can request them and it is a waste of money to pay them to do so. Keep your money and request the records yourself.

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