With tomorrow being Veterans Day, we wanted to share a great gift idea for the veteran(s) in your life. A Life Chest is a fantastic place for veterans to keep all of their prized memorabilia in one place and share their stories with family members and future generations. Our friends over at The Life Chest have put together this guide to help you obtain your DD-214 (essential for proof of military service) and to share some stories from other veterans and their Life Chests.
The Freedom Life Chest™ and The Patriot Life Chest™ are the perfect place to store and memorialize a veteran’s legacy, beginning with their service medals. Their time spent in service, with valor and sacrifice, honoring and protecting our country, should be recognized and appreciated for years to come. In order to receive a veteran’s service medals however, whether it is by the veteran or by a family member, the first step is to acquire a DD-214.
So what is a DD-214? It is an official form given to you by the United States Department of Defense upon retiring, separating, or discharge from the military. In short, a DD-214 is proof and verification of your military service. Think of it as your ‘one-stop shop’ of a document: it’s the most comprehensive paperwork any military service member has, even above medical records. Whether you’re applying for a home loan or other benefits through the VA, getting ready to retire, or even trying to replace your father’s long-lost medals, obtaining your DD-214 is essential, and will help you in a multitude of ways.
You can request your military service records, and your DD-214 online, by mail, or by fax at:
This government website allows you to submit your request ONLINE with eVetRecs, but please note that a written signature by mail or fax is also required in this process.
Also provided on this site is the SF-180 form (in PDF form), which allows you to submit your request by MAIL or FAX.
Who Can Order Records?
- You may use this system if you are:
- A military veteran, or
- Next of kin of a deceased, former member of the military. The next of kin can be any of the following:
- Surviving spouse that has not remarried
Your request must contain certain basic information for them to locate the service records. This information includes:
- The veteran’s complete name used while in service
- Service number
- Social security number
- Branch of service
- Dates of service
- Date and place of birth (especially if the service number is not known).
- If you suspect your records may have been involved in the 1973 fire, also include:
- Place of discharge
- Last unit of assignment
- Place of entry into the service, if known.
All requests must be signed and dated by the veteran or next-of-kin.
If you are the next of kin of a deceased veteran, you must provide proof of death of the veteran such as a copy of death certificate, letter from funeral home, or published obituary.
Additional and Recommended Information to Have Ready:
While this information is not required, it is extremely helpful to NPRC staff in understanding and fulfilling your request:
The purpose or reason for your request, such as applying for veterans benefits, preparing to retire, or researching your personal military history.
Any deadlines related to your request. We will do our best to meet any priorities. For example, you may be applying for a VA-guaranteed Home Loan and need to provide proof of military service by a specific date.
Any other specific information, documents or records you require from your Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) besides your Report of Separation (DD Form 214).
For additional details on what information may or may not be included, please see the Special Notice to veterans and Family Members regarding requests for copies of military personnel and/or medical files.
Generally, there is no charge for basic military personnel and medical record information provided to veterans, next-of-kin and authorized representatives from Federal (non-archival) records. If your request involves a service fee, you will be notified as soon as that determination is made.
However, Archival OMPFs are subject to the NARA fee schedule that authorizes the Agency to collect fees from the public for copies of archival records (44 USC 2116c and 44 USC 2307).
Online, mailed and faxed archival requests require the purchase of the COMPLETE photocopy of the OMPF:
A routine OMPF of 5 pages or less: $25 flat fee
A routine OMPF of 6 pages or more: $70 flat fee (most OMPFs fall in this category)
Persons of Exceptional Prominence (PEP) OMPF: $.80 cents per page ($20 minimum)
We want to honor the sacrifice and bravery of our country’s veterans as well as protect and secure their legacy, whether it’s through a Life Chest itself, or extending a helping hand. The dedication to the values of honor, courage and commitment should be recognized through family and friends forever more.
“With the development of The Life Chest I now realize that these moments and stories can be shared by family and friends because the silent voice of each item is a piece of me… the essence of who I am. Thank you for giving the vehicle to share the path I have walked and the path I will explore.”
– Mike Elliott, Golden Knight and founder of The All Veteran Group
The Patriot Life Chest™ & The Patriot Memory Life Chest™
The Freedom Life Chest™ & The Freedom Memory Life Chest™
John is a small business owner and served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam. Wounded in the war he was awarded a Purple Heart. Now retired, John enjoys spending time on his Virginia ranch with his wife Catherine. Every Christmas their six grandchildren come to visit, and it’s become a family tradition to go through Granddad’s Life Chest after dinner.
John’s Freedom Life Chest
- Keychain from his first car
- His father’s watch
- Dog tags
- Letters from his wife she sent while he was serving
- Sergeant Chevron
- Purple Heart
- Photos of Vietnam & guys from his unit