When applying for a VA home loan, you’ll need a record of your military history to obtain your Certificate of Eligibility (COE). The most commonly required document is the DD-214 (Certificate of Release of Discharge from Active Duty), but you may need to provide other documentation like your statement of service.
While this documentation is necessary to provide evidence of your military service, you should not be deterred from pursuing a VA loan if you don’t currently have access to your military records. If your military records are lost, missing or even destroyed, there are steps you can take to recover or reconstruct these documents.
There are multiple ways to find your military service records to prove your VA loan eligibility, and the best option depends on your unique circumstances. The milConnect website is typically a great starting point for those looking to gain access to their service records.
milConnect is a valuable resource that assists Department of Defense (DoD) affiliates and beneficiaries in managing their military benefits and records. milConnect is an online, self-service portal that provides access to personal and personnel records that are available in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).
Any DoD affiliates over the age of 18 can use milConnect to view or manage the following:
Veterans can request important documents like their DD-214, DD-215, Report of Separation or most other military release papers through the milConnect portal.
Below we’ve outlined the steps to request military documents:
|Sign in, register or upgrade your DS Logon account to premium to access milConnect
|Click “Correspondance/Documentation” on your signed-in milConnect homepage
|Expand the drop-down menu, then select “Defense Personnel Records Information (DPRIS)”
|Navigate to the “Personnel File” tab
|In this tab, select “Request my Personnel File” to open the document request form
|Complete the form with your accurate information
|Indicate the records you are requesting by checking the relevant boxes in the “Document Index” section of the form
|To submit your request, click “Create and Send Request” at the end of the form
Once you have submitted your request for military records, you will receive an email confirmation from milConnect to confirm your submission has been received. You will receive another email notification when your request is completed and your military documents are ready for you to download.
The Standard Form SF 180, or Request Pertaining to Military Records, is another option to request military service records, including your DD-214 or other separation documents. You can send this completed form to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC-MPR) at 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, Missouri, 63138.
The NPRC is a primary resource for obtaining military service records. Veterans or their next of kin can request records via written letter, fax or by visiting in person. You can reach the NPRC by phone at 314-801-0800 or fax at 314-801-9195.
Some applicants may face obstacles in the VA loan process due to lost or destroyed military records. Many Veterans in this situation were affected by a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in 1973, which led to the destruction of approximately 16 to 18 million Official Military Personnel Files.
After the 1973 fire, the NPRC established a reconstruction branch to help rebuild lost documents. Affected Veterans should start by contacting the reconstruction branch to see if they are able to recover any information relating to their military service records.
Other avenues for recovery include contacting local Veterans agencies or working with Veterans Service Officers (VSOs) and independent researchers.
If you request service records through the NPRC, you can monitor the status of your request about 10 days after submission. The NPRC typically prioritizes requests for DD-214s, so those requesting these documents may receive a response more quickly. For other military documents, the request process may take several months.
The exact timeline for obtaining your military records will vary based on factors like the current volume of requests or the documents you are requesting. It’s important to start this process early to prove your eligibility when applying for a VA home loan.