Last November, the VA launched a new website to make it easier for veterans to access their health care and benefits information. While the update was a step in the right direction, we still have a long way to go toward making the post-discharge transition period simpler for former servicemembers—especially when it comes to requesting military service records.

Showing eligibility is typically the first hurdle on the path to applying for and receiving veteran benefits, including disability compensation, VA mortgage assistance, and education benefits. This process is simple if veterans already have a copy of their DD214, but problems can arise if they never received this important discharge document or if it’s been lost or damaged.

Then, they’ll need to request a copy of their DD214, which can take some time.

Are we talking days, weeks, or months?

That all depends on how you make your request.

For recently discharged veterans, your records may be available through the eBenefits system. Check here to find out.

If not, the typical process goes something like this: From the National Archives site, you’ll be asked to download and print a military records request form (SF-180). Once completed and signed, the next step is faxing or mailing your form to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri.

If you don’t have access to a printer or are otherwise unable to obtain an SF-180, you can mail a handwritten request to the NPRC or visit the National Archives in person. After that, the search process can take months, and veterans are discouraged from even following up with their requests until at least three months have passed since the initial request.

Fortunately, there is a faster way. is an expedited military records retrieval service that lets you order a copy of your DD214 online in just a few minutes, without having to download, print, sign, or fax any forms. Plus, you’ll get your documents much quicker.

We typically process your request the same day in our office and submit it to the government the following business day. As soon as we locate your records, which takes about ten business days on average, you’ll receive a scanned copy via email. Shortly after that, you’ll receive a hard copy in the mail.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the timeline you can expect when requesting your military service records through


Timelines below are based on the listed discharge years
ARMY 1961-Present
Avg. 10 business days
About 2-8 weeks
NAVY 1954-1994
Avg. 10 business days
2-3 weeks
2-4 weeks
USAF 1965-2003
Avg. 10 business days
About 2-8 weeks
2-3 weeks
USMC 1953-1999
Avg. 10 business days
About 2-8 weeks
5-8 weeks (due to gov’t heavy backlog)
USCG 1953-2005
Avg. 10 business days
2-4 weeks
1-30 Business days
1 to 45 days depending on several factors.

The best part? You’ll have your discharge paperwork in hand the next time you need to provide proof of service, and all without the hassle of long hold times or unpredictable turnarounds.

A word of caution: Some military records may not be available at all.

In 1973, a fire broke out at the NPRC in St. Louis that destroyed an estimated 16 to 18 million Official Military Personnel Files—which contain a veteran’s DD214. Most of the ruined files belonged to Army personnel discharged between 1912 and 1960 and Air Force veterans discharged between 1947 and 1964.

Even now, more than four decades later, members of the National Archives Preservation Program are still working on restoring the fire-damaged documents. If your or your relative’s DD214 was among those records damaged beyond repair, it may be impossible to retrieve a copy.

Veteran-owned DD214Direct helps you get the documents you need, when you need them.

Our cutting-edge technology platform and keen knowledge of government protocol and procedure allow us to deliver your documents faster than competitors. We physically stand in line at the records repository and manually coordinate your order, freeing up your time and easing your worries about whether or not you will get your DD214. Much like paying a small fee to have your taxes done by a professional, DD214Direct provides the service and convenience you’ve been hoping for, plus we make it a lot easier.

Instead of having to download, print, sign and fax your document request form, you can submit your order directly through our website with the ease of e-signature technology from a desktop, laptop or mobile device. Once we locate your DD214, we will email you a copy immediately—a service not offered by the government. And tracking your request through us is simple, so you never have to worry about long hold times and inconclusive answers.

Ready to get started? Click here to begin the order process.