Can You Look Up Military Service Records?

military members in a truck

Being part of the military has plenty of benefits, including healthcare and housing loans. Because of the benefits given to people who have rendered federal military service, it’s only practical that businesses and healthcare providers ask for proof of military records.

Fortunately, there are various ways to place a military records request. While military service records are not readily available online, you can explore multiple ways to verify whether someone is an army, air forces, navy, or national guard member.

Access to Military Service Records

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a United States federal law that requires the total or partial disclosure of previously unreleased or uncirculated information and documents under the control of the United States government upon request.

Essentially, this act gives any person the freedom to access government records, specifically those from the Executive branch. Because of this law, any business or interested party can verify the personnel records of service members. This means military members don’t have the right to bar interested people from proving their military status.

Meanwhile, the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) is an agency of the National Archives and Records Administration. You can find the military service records of veterans from World War I to the present time from this agency.

The National Personnel Records

The NPRC carries different types of records, including Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF). These may include the Report of Separation, DD Form 214, and a veteran’s service history. Some of the information that can be obtained through this government branch are:

  • Enlistment or appointment and separation dates
  • Duty assignments and stations
  • Training and qualifications
  • Disciplinary actions
  • Awards

Meanwhile, veterans’ health and medical records can be found in various places, depending on the individual’s branch and date of separation. If that veteran served before World War I, you could not quickly obtain information from the army’s electronic system. However, you can refer to the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

If you are an enlisted personnel, you can request a veteran’s service records online or through mail or fax for free. However, you can only obtain limited information on the armed forces member records if you are not next of kin or a surviving spouse. You would need formal permission from the veteran or next of kin to access more information.

There are various ways of obtaining the wartime service information of a veteran. The veteran or next of kin can quickly request records in electronic format through the National Archives website. Military service records can also be ordered via mail or faxing a Standard Form 180 (SF-180) or letter. Obtaining this information is free.

If the veteran in question was in service before 1917, you need to order the information online or with a downloadable form. They may be a required fee for copies of archival OMPF, including those for military personnel discharged at that time.

To check the status of one’s order for recent records (World War I to present), you may contact the NPRC. For military records before 1917, you must contact the National Archives.

How to Request Military Service Records

The process for obtaining military records is straightforward. If you are a veteran that rendered service in World War I and after or their next of kin, you can request military records for free through the National Personnel Records Center website or mail or fax. Meanwhile, the records of veterans who rendered their service before World War I must request information from the National Archives.

Most of the time, obtaining military records is free. However, you would need to pay a certain fee if you’re requesting older military files.

Types of Military Service Records

As mentioned, not all types of military records are the same. Personnel that rendered service from World War I to the present can easily obtain their records from the National Personnel Records Center.

The NPRC carries various types of records. These include OMPF, Reports of Separation, DD Form 214, and a veteran’s service history. Information available includes enlistment or appointment and separation dates, trainings and qualifications, disciplinary actions, awards, and duty assignments and stations.


military members in camouflage uniform

Verifying if an individual has indeed rendered their services for the military is important. Fortunately, accessing records can be easy if you know the right organizations to contact. Veterans have done the country a great service, and it’s only appropriate that they receive the benefits of their sacrifices. However, proving that the veteran is legitimate is important.


Are military service records public?

Technically, military personnel records are open to the public 62 years after that veteran has rendered their service.

Are military DD-214 public record?

If that veteran was discharged over 62 years ago, yes, their records are public. If they were discharged less than 62 years ago, you may request limited information from the Military Personnel File.

Can you look up if someone was dishonorably discharged?

Yes, you may confirm if the personnel was dishonorably discharged through the NPRC.

Can you look up your DD-214 online?

Yes, you can request it through the milConnect website. It provides a way for service members and veterans like you to manage your personal information and access various military-related resources, including requesting a copy of your DD-214.

You may also obtain your DD-214 online through the eVetRecs system. It’s always best to check with the National Personnel Records Center or consult with a veterans service officer for guidance on accessing the necessary documents.

Attorney Roy Kaufmann serves as the Director of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Centralized Verification Service, located in Washington, D.C. As a recognized authority on the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Mr. Kaufmann has published hundreds of articles and hosted many webinars. His teachings help law firms and businesses to remain compliant with the SCRA rules and regulations so as to avoid costly fines.