There are many different types of military records. The following is a list of some of the most common records and how to obtain them. This is not an exhaustive list. If you have a complicated VA claim or issue with trying to upgrade your discharge there may be other records available that can be helpful.
Obtaining Military Records
Each military branch maintains its own military personnel records for service members on active duty. Once a service member has been discharged and no longer has any further service obligation, his or her personnel records are sent to a central archiving facility. These facilities vary based on the date of the service member's discharge and branch of service.
Veterans discharged to Massachusetts can contact the Military War Records Office of the Adjutant General in order to obtain their military records. Veterans can also visit their local Veterans' Agent office or the central office of the Department of Veterans' Services (600 Washington Street, Suite 1100 in Boston) to request a copy of their Form DD-214. Local agents and DVS staff will access DD-214 forms online and print them for veterans who present positive photo ID. Contact the Military War Records Office at (508) 233-7780.
Veterans living in another state at the time of discharge can obtain their records directly from the federal agency responsible for maintaining the records. Most records can be obtained by submitting a completed Standard Form 180 (preferred) or by providing the information listed in the table, to the address listed for the agency in charge of maintaining the records. Veterans who plan to file a claim for medical benefits with the VA do not need to request a copy of their military health record from the National Personnel Records Center, unless the veteran wants a copy for his or her personal records. The original health records are provided directly to the VA after the veteran's claim is filed. For more information about obtaining military records visit the NPRC website.
Note: "Discharged" means a person with no current military status. A person released from active duty based on expiration of terms of service, generally is transferred into the inactive reserve. Most military service obligations are for eight years. If it is less than 8 years from the date of enlistment, then the person is probably in the reserve.