How to Obtain a Military Service Record

There are two main methods of obtaining military service records.

The National Archives keeps records of veterans' military service, such as the DD Form 214, in addition to other documentation such as medical records. In most cases, obtaining these records is free for veterans, next-of-kin and legal representatives. There are two main methods for obtaining military service records: Request the records online through or send in a Standard Form SF 180.

1 Online

2 Go to

Go to At the bottom of the page, select "request military service records."

3 Enter your relationship

Enter your relationship to the veteran in the drop-down menu: self or next of kin. Choose which type of records you are searching for, current or former service records, and click continue on the menu to the right.

4 Fill in the appropriate service information

Fill in the appropriate service information, such as branch of service, service component and enlisted or officer status. Next, choose the type of record you are looking for from the drop-down list. Some options are medical records, military awards and genealogy.

5 Fill

Fill in the veteran's service and personal information. Enter full name, Social Security number, date of birth, end of service date and all other information on the page. When you have finished, click continue.

6 Enter the address

Enter the address where you would like the records to be sent in the final window. Click continue at the bottom of the page. You are done. Expect to receive your records in 10 days to three weeks, depending on the type of record you requested.

7 Mail or Fax Form SF 180

8 Download Standard Form SF 180

Download Standard Form SF 180 from the National Archives website. Fill in all information pertaining to the veteran's service, such as branch of service, service dates and service number.

9 Select which document

Select which document(s) you would like to receive. Options are the DD 214, personnel file, medical records or other. You may select more than one document type.

10 Enter the relationship of the requester

Enter the relationship of the requester to the veteran. Fill in return address information so the requested records are sent to the correct location. The signature of an authorized requester is required.

11 Find the veteran's of service and status

Find the veteran's branch of service and status on the grid shown on the final page. Use the number listed on the right side of the grid to find the appropriate address listed at the bottom of the form. This is where you must send the SF 180. Current response times are as much as three weeks, plus postal processing time on both ends.

Based in New York City, Lindsey Parker has been a freelance writer since 2007. Her writing has appeared on eHow and Education 4 Everyone. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maryland and a Master of Science in education from Pace University.