How Do Employers Verify Military Service?

Many employers consider one’s overall background when screening possible candidates. Now that a lot of people embellish their resume to appear more impressive, it’s understandable that companies will investigate a candidate’s real background. It is vital for employers to verify one’s military service before they consider promising candidates.

What does it mean to have history as a service member? People who have rendered military service are perceived to be more responsible and have strong values. Moreover, their role in the military might prove that they’re the right fit for whatever job they’re applying for. Given how many resources are put into talent development, it’s only practical for companies to conduct a background check to ensure that a person was indeed part of the United States Department of Defense at one point in their life.

Confirming a person’s military background can spare companies from problems in the future, and proves that a person is someone of integrity.

Can Employers Look Up Military Records?

Look Up Military Records

Technically speaking, military records are private and not public information. A veteran can opt to keep their records private if they want. However, there are ways employers can verify a person’s military service.

If any employer wishes to verify a person’s military background, it is recommend to ask for the veteran’s consent first. The veterans should be aware that the potential employer is conducting a background check. From there, companies can explore various methods to verify one’s military past.

How Do Employers Verify Military Service? Different Methods

Once the employer has obtained the applicant’s consent to conduct a background check, they can explore different methods for military service verification. Here are some popular ones to look into retired military personnel today:

Requesting a DD214 Form

One of the easiest ways to confirm if a person was part of the armed forces during the hiring process is to ask for a photocopy of their military service records. Formally known as a Certificate of Release or Discharge, a DD Form 214 or DD214 is a release document given by the Department of Defense upon a service member’s retirement, discharge or separation from active duty service.

You can simply request for a copy of military personnel records from a veteran, and they would normally be happy to provide documentation. All branches of the US military use the same form, so regardless if that person was from the Air Force or Marines, they would probably have it.

When you have a copy of a DD214, you should carefully examine pertinent details, including place and date of entry into active duty, date and place of release from active duty, last duty assignment and rank, military job specialty, military education, and separation information. These details give you a clear picture of that person’s experience in military service. Moreover, it can support the service member’s qualifications for the position they’re applying for.

Contacting the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC)

One of the most important institutions for employers who wish to verify military service is the National Personnel Records Center or NPRC. This is one of the largest operations of the National Archives and Records Administration. It serves as the central repository of military service records for the US government.

As long as service members were discharged within the past 62 years, their military records should be available in the NPRC. On the other hand, approximately 16-18 million service records of select Army and Air Force veterans were affected in the NPRC’s disastrous fire in 1973. The NPRC has done its best to recover the records since.

Standard Form-180

When requesting military records from the NPRC, you can explore two options: write a detailed letter of request or submit an SF-180. Fundamentally, this form is used to request information from military records. You need detailed information on a service member’s history in the US military for the NPRC to process your request. While you may not be able to obtain the full DD214, the NPRC may be able to provide you limited information that can help verify a person’s role in the military.

Usually, it would take the NPRC a week to 10 business days to locate a person’s service records. However, this process may take longer if you don’t have enough information to make the search easier. The same timeline applies for requests made via letter. The more information you would be able to supply, the better.

Military Service Verification Through the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC)

Defense Manpower Data Center

The Defense Manpower Data Center is an institution charged with maintaining information of DoD entitlements, benefits, and medical readiness for active duty service members and veterans. It has been in operations since 1974. The official website offers various helpful resources to veterans and more. The service is free, but does require that you have a Social Security Number or, at the very least, a date of birth for the individual.


Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Centralized Verification Service (SCRACVS) is a private contractor located in Washington, D.C. We offer our clients active duty status verification services in compliance with the SCRA. Our usual clientele includes landlords, litigants, and lending institutions.

Our company utilizes the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Manpower Data Center to confirm if a person was indeed in the U.S. military. What’s great about using the SCRACVS is that you don’t need other information such as person’s birthday or social security number to find their active duty status.

Moreover, our registration process is easy. We offer a 24-hour turnaround time for most requests, and we charge on a per-name basis only.

What Information Can Be Shared With Employers?

Technically speaking, only the veterans and their next-of-kin are authorized to obtain military records. However, employees can obtain a release document, that gives employers authority to request military records.

Upon receipt of consent of the former service member, employers will most likely be given a copy of the DD214. This report provides a general overview of a person’s experience in the military. Employers should examine the form thoroughly to understand if the applicant is fit for the job they’re applying for.

The Importance of Accurate Military Service Verification

Service members are entitled to many perks as active duty members and veterans. Thus, it comes as no surprise that some people try to take advantage of these privileges. There may even be people who would fabricate information on military records to fool employers like you. Thus, you should practice vigilance when verifying one’s military past.

It should be noted that State and federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws don’t prohibit you from asking a former service member’s military discharge types. On the other hand, it is illegal to ask a veteran the nature of their military discharge.

Pretending to be military personnel counts as fraud, which is, of course, illegal. However, embellishing one’s military past is not strictly illegal, just morally reprehensible. It should be noted that the Stolen Valor Act of 2013 prohibits people from claiming they received certain medals to obtain some form or incentive like money or other tangible benefits.

Provided that you’re investigating one’s military past to learn more about that individual, consider it a sign to not hire that person if they lie about being in the military. It says a lot about their integrity.

Tips for Employers

If you’re confirming if a person was once military personnel, you should practice constant vigilance. Here are some tips to ensure your quest in verifying military service won’t be too complicated:

Obtain a waiver to verify the former service member’s consent. To avoid any complications while requesting for military records, you should ask the person to sign a waiver. This gives you authority to investigate on their past in military service.

Communicate about the verification process. You should be transparent with your intention of checking if that person was indeed part of the armed forces. They might get offended if you dig into their past without telling them.

Clarify what kind of veteran they are. Technically, people who’ve rendered more than 90 days of consecutive active service are entitled to a DD214. Hence, reserve component members and National Guard members are also provided discharge papers. You should clarify what their role was in the military right from the start.

Double check for information accuracy. There may be instances wherein a person’s military records doesn’t match what they claim. There are times wherein this is an error from the DoD’s part. Hence, you should contact the institution where you obtained that person’s military verification to clarify accordingly. You should also communicate this discrepancy with the personnel you’re looking into.

Resolve discrepancies professionally. When dealing with possible discrepancies, you should communicate to the former military personnel as professionally as possible. It would be ideal if you contacted them via email for documentation purposes and maintain a professional tone in your correspondences.


Pre-employment screening is a vital step in company operations. However, you should be professional in verifying the past of military veterans. If you follow the legal ways of obtaining information of military service discharges, you won’t have a problem in the long run.


Can employers see your military service?

Employers need the consent of former service members to look into a person’s military past. However, there are ways to verify one’s military service without obtaining a person’s Social Security Number or birthday.

Can an employer ask for proof of military service?

Yes, it’s legal for employers to ask candidates for proof of their military service. The DD214 should be enough evidence that the person was indeed in the military.

Do I have to tell an employer I’m in the military?

While you don’t necessarily have to share this information, it is encouraged. Serving in the military is an honor. You should be proud to disclose your past in active duty service.

How can I verify that someone was in the military?

You can explore various options for military verification. This includes contacting the DMDC, NPRC, and using SCRACVS services.

Is it legal to verify military service?

Yes, it is legal to verify military service as long as you have consent from the personnel. You should secure the proper documentation to avoid issues.

How do background checks verify military service?

Background checks allow employers to peek into the past of a person, and this includes their military background. Professionals have the resources to look into one’s experience in military service.

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.