Are Military Records Public
Military personnel records are only made public exactly 62 years from the date of your military separation. This information used to be publicly accessible up until 2004, when The United States implemented The Privacy Act to protect civilians and military personnel alike. In order to receive someones military record prior to this date, they would either need to be the next-of-kin, and would also have to file a request under the Freedom of Information Act . Next of kin includes:
A survived, unmarried military spouse
Father or Mother
Commonly Asked Questions About Military Records Online
Where Does Military Records Data Come From?
Data from Military Records come from government data that regular search engines cannot access. Throughout a person’s live, government agencies at the county, state, and federal level collect information about people. For example, a county clerk might have information about a persons birth certificate and a courthouse might contain criminal records. Much of this data is available to the public. Online Military Records websites collect this data into easy-to-read reports. Many public record sites will also scour various social media to give you a more complete picture of the person you’re trying to look up.
What Kind Of Data Is In Public Records?
Different Public Records services offer different kinds of data. However, they commonly offer data such as:
- Legal Name
- Current and Last Known Addresses
- Persons Living at the Same Address
How Can I Use Online Military Records?
Popular uses for online public records sites include checking on people such as:
- Vacation Buddies
The Military Records services we review are NOT credit reporting agencies. That means it is prohibited to to use these sites for any purpose governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act . So you can not use them for things like employment screening, tenant screening, or making decisions about credit or insurance eligibility.
How Accurate Is Data In Online Military Records?
Are Online Military Records Free?
How To Check Military Discharge Status
This site will determine if a person has benefits under the SCRA. Usually, our clients are lawyers, banks, landlords, and people who are in court suing someone. This site should not be used because you suspect a scam or just to check out someone.
When you do business with military service members, it is important to know whether they are on active duty. If they are, you must adhere to the provisions of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, a United States federal law that provides certain protections to members of the armed forces.
Know SCRA Rules
The SCRA says, for instance, that you cannot charge more than 6% interest on loans to members of the military who are on active duty. You also must get a court order before proceeding with any civil actions against military clients.
Thus, many businesses who deal frequently with veterans and military clients do regular checks of military records. Those who may have been active military when they first became clients may later have gone on military reserve, or may no longer be a service member at all, whether due to discharge or retirement.
Stay in Compliance with Regulations
However, if a veteran signs a contract while they are still in the military, they are entitled to certain protections during that time that they dont get to continue to enjoy after an honorable discharge, such as a lowered interest rate. That is one reason it is important to check military records frequently.
How to Search for Veterans Records
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Statutory Bars To Benefits
- Sentence of a general court-martial
- Being a conscientious objector who refused to perform military duty, wear the uniform, or otherwise comply with lawful orders of competent military authority
- Resignation by an officer for the good of the service
- Absence without official leave for a continuous period of 180 days or more, without compelling circumstances to warrant such prolonged unauthorized absence
- Requesting release from service as an alien during a period of hostilities
The exact language for this rule is found in 38 USC § 5303. However, it is important to note that when considering the discharge status of an individual who went AWOL, there is another subset of adjudication that needs to happen. Specifically, VA must look at the totality of circumstances to see if the individual had a good reason for being AWOL for more than 180 days. After looking at the reasons and comparing it to the quality of service, VA can make a more appropriate determination.
What Is A General Other Than Honorable Discharge
A General Discharge means that you have performed some or most of your duties in a exemplary fashion however, there may have been an incident of misconduct, or perhaps a failure to adapt to a particular environment or group. A General Discharge is not necessarily bad in that it does not have a stigma associated with it, and veterans may still be able to reenlist, however, they should confer with a Resource Specialist to gain more clarification.
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Veterans With Multiple Periods Of Service
Determining eligibility for benefits may be complex for veterans with multiple periods of service. For example, veterans may have two periods of service: the first with an honorable discharge and the second with a dishonorable discharge. Any conditions incurred during the first period would be eligible for VA benefits however, any conditions incurred during the second period would likely not be eligible. On the other hand, if a veteran signs on for four years of service and then re-enlists at three years, the entire period of service will be treated as one timeframe. If any portion of that is considered dishonorable, the whole period of service will be considered dishonorable. It becomes even more nuanced when there are more than two periods of service. In that situation, it may be best for individuals to reach out to a veterans service organization or other representatives that deal specifically with discharge upgrades and character of service determinations.
Military Discharge Status Upgrades And Entitlement To Va Benefits
Emma: Good afternoon and welcome to Facebook live with Chisholm Chisholm and Kilpatrick. My name is Emma Peterson and Im joined this afternoon with Christian McTarnaghan and Dvora Louria and were going to be talking about military discharge statuses and upgrades. If you have any questions during the course of our discussion today, please feel free to leave it in the comment section on Facebook or if you view this after the fact were happy to try to address them but do let us know if you have any questions and well try to hit them throughout the course of our discussion.
So, with that lets jump right in and just as a disclaimer to this sort of entire conversation, we at CCK dont actually typically do discharge upgrades. So, its not typically a practice that we will go after for our clients but we did want to provide this information because it is so important to so many veterans in determining whether theyre going to actually get VA benefits in the first place. So, with that lets jump right in and Dvora, why dont you tell us a little bit about the types of discharges veterans can get from the military.
Dvora: Sure. So the first kind is an honorable discharge and thats what most veterans get over 85% of veterans and that means that they either met or exceeded their expectations and if a veteran receives an honorable discharge that means that theyll be entitled to all VA benefits.
Dvora: Right, everything across the board.
Emma: Okay, great.
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Different Classes Of Discharge
There are several types of discharge, reflecting the service member’s performance:
- Entry-level separation: they simply didn’t fit the military. They can only get this one during the first 180 days of service.
- Honorable: during their time in the service, their performance was good or exceptional.
- General discharge under honorable conditions: Satisfactory performance.
- Other than honorable: the veteran fell short in some fashion.
- Bad conduct: a punitive discharge based on a court-martial.
- Dishonorable: another court-martial discharge. The circumstances typically involve something on the level of rape or murder.
Website Of The Charity Organization
Another way to find out if someone is a veteran or not is to ask him or her for a copy of their DD-214. The DD Form 214, or DD-214, is a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. It is provided to every service member of the U.S. Military upon discharge.
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Discharge Review Board Hearing
On your application, you have a choice about whether to ask for a DRB hearing or ask the DRB to make a decision based on your application. If you ask the DRB to just review your records without a hearing, and they deny your application, you can then submit a request for a hearing. This gives you two chances to get a favorable decision.
Sometimes it helps to present yourself at a hearing where you may be able to establish a personal rapport with the DRB. However, hearings often take place in Washington, D.C. and you will not be reimbursed for any of your expenses.
A disability lawyer may be able to help you decide which course of action is best for you.
Other Than Honorable Discharge
An OTH discharge is typically an undesirable discharge. It means you had some serious departures from the conduct, protocol, and performance expected of a service member. Examples of situations that might result in an OTH discharge include security violations, serious misconduct that endangers other members of the military, or use of deliberate force to seriously hurt another person.
In these cases, VA will conduct a character of service determination to assess eligibility for benefits. Therefore, an OTH discharge does not mean you are definitely barred from getting VA benefits. Instead, VA has to determine based on the facts of your case whether you are allowed to receive benefits based on the statutes and regulations. OTH discharge characterizations are made administratively rather than through court-martial proceedings. Veterans have long reported misuse of OTH characterizations in cases where the soldiers misconduct was related to post-traumatic stress disorder , traumatic brain injury , military sexual trauma or, before 2011, sexual orientation.
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What Is A Dd214
The Defense Department issues to each veteran a DD-214, identifying the veteran’s condition of discharge – honorable, general, other than honorable, dishonorable or bad conduct. You can find a sample DD-214 which can help you determine if a veteran served in armed combat HERE. Before January 1, 1950, several similar forms were used by the military services, including the WD AGO 53, WD AGO 55, WD AGO 53-55, NAVPERS 553, NAVMC 78PD, and the NAVCG 553.
Want to know the legal nitty gritty? We’ve provided the complete DoD Instruction NUMBER 1336.1 concernng Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty HERE . We’ve also provided:
- Air Force Regulation 36-3202 Guidance Memorandum for the Preparatuion of Separation Documents HERE
- Army Regulation 635-8 concerning the preparation and distribution of separation documents HERE
- the HERE
- the Naval Military Personnel Manual NAVPERS 15560DHERE
- and you can access the National Guard’s process for their issuance of their discharge certificates HERE .
Can I Upgrade My Discharge To Something Better
Sometimes, a service member is able to appeal a discharge classification using a DD Form 293.
The appeals process offers the chance for the military member or their family to make a case to upgrade the discharge status. It must be done within 15 years of the discharge.
This could be due to inaccuracies in the report or unfair practices that resulted in the discharge. The specific requirements laid out by the military is that the discharge is inequitable or improper.
During the process, the service member has the option to be represented by counsel or to represent themselves, either in person or through the written process.
It should be mentioned that the majority of appeals are not approved. Working with an experienced attorney may help, but the circumstances of the discharge are often upheld.
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Will My Discharge Classification Show Up On My Dd
Yes, an official discharge classification is included on a service members DD-214.
Many potential employers, especially those in the federal government, will request a copy of the service members DD-214.
In the cases of punitive discharges, such as bad conduct or dishonorable discharges, the service member may be required by law to disclose the fact that they were convicted of a felony or served time in prison.
In addition to discharge classification, the DD-214 provides the following information:
- Date and place of entry into active duty
- Home address at time of entry
- Date and place of release of active duty
- Home address after separation
- Last duty assignment and rank
- Military job specialty
- Total creditable service
- Foreign service credited
- Separation information This is the section where discharge information is included.
All of this information is included to make sure that the military members service is classified and quantified correctly. It is important to review this document for accuracy prior to separating, as making changes later can be a tedious, drawn-out process.
The DD-214 is used to determine eligibility for other veterans benefits, such as the GI Bill education benefit, which requires a certain length of active duty service for full benefits on top of requiring an honorable discharge.
Determine The Custodian Of Record
Select the soldiers service branch in Column 1 of the first table on page 3 of SF-180, choosing from Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines or Coast Guard.
In the second column, choose the designation that applies to the person you are researching. The rows for each branch of the military are divided by time period. For example, the second row in Column 2 is for Air Force personnel deceased, discharged or retired for the period from 5/1/1994 to 9/30/2004.
Follow the correct row to the third column in the table, which is labeled Personnel Record. Circle the code on the form.
In the second table on page three, find the mailing code you circled on the page above and note the corresponding address. This is the address to which you will mail or fax your completed SF-180.
You do not have to fill in every identity component to submit the form, but the archive may not be able to fulfill your petition if too many items are missing.
If you are unsure of which branch of the military the person you are researching served in, file a separate form for each branch.
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Its Difficult But Not Impossible To Get Your Bad Paper Discharge Upgraded To Honorable Or Get The Reasons For Your Discharge Changed
Some veterans want their discharge changed even if they remain eligible for many VA benefits, because they feel it dishonors the service they provided to their country. Other veterans want their discharge changed because they feel that after serving their country it is grossly unfair that they are denied VA benefits.
There are two different types of military boards that can review your discharge papers. One is the Discharge Review Board , which will be discussed in this article. The other is the Board of Correction for Military Records . Each board has different authority, which is important to understand so you will know where to apply.
It can be very difficult to get a discharge upgrade, even with the information in this article, so it is advisable to retain an attorney after you learn about the basics.
Types Of Military Records
World War I – Present
You can find veterans military service records from World War I to the present from the National Personnel Records Center . The NPRC houses many types of records, including Official Military Personnel Files . These files can include the Report of Separation and show a veterans service history, which may include:
Enlistment or appointment and separation dates
Duty stations and assignments
Veterans health and medical records are located in various places, depending on their branch and date of separation. See this chart of locations of veterans medical and health records.
Before World War I
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How To Apply To A Discharge Review Board
Discharge Review Board. Complete an Application for Review of Discharge From the Armed Services of the United States. You can complete it online, or get it from a local Department of Defense installation or the regional office of the Department of Veterans Affairs . Either submit the application online or mail it to the address below for your branch of the service. Be very thorough in your application about all the reasons you believe you are entitled to an upgrade. Any issues you neglect to list will not be considered by the board, even if you or your lawyer raise them later on.
ATTN: Naval Discharge Review Board720 Kennon Ave S.E., Suite 309Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5023
Air ForceAir Force Review Boards AgencySAF/MRBR550-C Street West, Suite 40Randolph AFB, TX 78150-4742
Attn: Office of Military PersonnelUS Coast Guard2100 2nd Street S.W., Stop 7801Washington, DC 20593-7801
What If Im Not The Veteran Or Next
- It depends on the date the service member separated from the military. Military personnel records are open to the public 62 years after they leave the military. Records of any veteran who separated from the military 62 years ago can be ordered by anyone for a copying fee . See Access to Military Records by the General Public for more details.
But what if it’s been less than 62 years?
- Records of individuals who left service less than 62 years ago are subject to access restrictions and only limited information or copies may be released to the general public within the provisions of the law. The Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act provide balance between the right of the public to obtain information from military service records and the right of the former military service member to protect his/her privacy. See Federal Records Center Program to access these records.
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