Proof of qualifying military service is required to use your VA home loan benefit to buy or refinance a home. If you are unable to locate a copy of your military service records, there are several ways to complete a military service records request. Your military service records such as a DD214 or other proof of service is required to get a VA Certificate of Eligibility (COE). Your COE can be obtained by your or your mortgage lender. You can make the request online, by mail or fax or through other options. Whichever way you choose to request your records, you must have them to get a VA loan.
National Personnel Records Center
The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) holds over 70 million records and is one of the National Archives largest projects. Veterans and their next of kin can request military service records from the NPRC only for those who no longer have a service obligation. This includes those have been completely discharged with no reserve commitment, retired or have died. What records are available will depend on the branch of service and what year the veteran was discharged. A military service records request can be completed online, by mail or by fax.
For those wishing to request military service records online, a request can be completed on the NPRC’s eVetRecs portal. Online is the easiest method. If you prefer to complete your request by mail, you will need to complete Standard Form 180 (SF-180) or make a formal written request to the NPRC. After completing the SF-180, be sure to follow the instructions within the military service records request form to ensure that you send it to the correct address based on the veteran’s branch of service and their date of discharge, retirement or death. The address where your request must be sent to is very specific. Requestors can fax their completed SF-180 or formal request letter to the NPRC at 314-801-9195.
Military record requests take time and the NPRC has asked that any follow up request wait at least 90 days since the initial request was made online or by military service records request form. For more information about requesting records from the NPRC, visit the National Archive’s website.
Electronic Military Service Records Request
Veterans may also request their service records through milConnect. This self-service portal allows members of the DoD and their beneficiaries to manage their benefits and records. Users are able to access personal and personnel records available in DEERS along with several other integrated applications. Accessing milConnect requires a current Common Access Card (CAC), DoD Self-Service (DS) Logon or current DFAS (myPay) account.
An electronic military service records request does have some limitations. Each branch of service currently has it’s own cutoff dates for retirement and discharge. The Air Force only has records available dating back to 1 October 2004. The Army’s cutoff is 1 October 2002, the Marine Corps is 1 January 1999 and the Navy is 1 January 1995. If you were discharged or retired before the date of your respective service, it’s best to submit your request through the National Personnel Records Center. Records for those who served in the Coast Guard are not available at this time.
National Guard & Reserve
Veterans who served as a member of the National Guard or Reserve can utilize any of the methods above for their military service records request. In my experience, accessing service records is the quickest through milConnect as long as the veteran served after the dates outlined by service above. I have spoken with other veterans who have even gone back to their old units to gather attendance rolls and other information to establish their proof of service. Otherwise the National Personnel Records Center or state veterans department are your only options.
Members currently serving in the National Guard or Reserves can access their service records through their online personnel portal. Current members must have six years and enough qualifying points to be eligible for a VA home loan.
Your State’s Veteran Department
All states have a department dedicated to veterans including the District of Columbia and Guam. The US territories of American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands do not. Most state departments will refer veterans to either the National Archives or the VA for military service records requests. However, some states do have copies of military service records for veterans whose home of record was in that state at the time of discharge. You can find your’s or another state’s veteran department online through a search engine or directly on the VA’s State Departments of Veterans Affairs.
Regardless of when you served our country, there are multiple ways and methods to complete your military service records request. Online requests are the quickest, but requests can also be made by mail or by fax. Proof of your military service is required to get a VA Certificate of Eligibility. A Certificate of Eligibility is required to get a home VA loan to purchase or refinance a home.