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When it's time for you to be separated, discharged or retired from the U.S. military you will receive form DD 214. Formally called "Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty," a DD 214 is typically a former servicemember's most important record of military service. Normally, a DD 214 is an unchanging record of one's military service history and isn't usually revised once it's issued. However, there are steps you can take to have your DD 214 updated if it's necessary.
U.S. Military DD 214
The DD 214 is a Department of Defense document applicable to all four military service branches. DD 214s are considered capstone military documents that provide a verified record of a servicemember's time in the military, including whether that service was honorable or otherwise. Government agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs use DD 214s to determine veterans benefits and preferences in hiring. Private sector employers may also ask for a servicemember's DD 214, and ensuring it's accurate is important for a servicemember.
Updating Your DD 214
DD 214s sometimes need to be updated, especially if they inaccurately or incompletely describe one's past military service. If you need to update or correct your DD 214, your first stop should be the National Archives website. You can download the forms necessary to apply to have your DD 214 corrected or updated. All requests to have a DD 214 corrected or updated go through the applicable military service branch.
DD Form 149
There's one specific form applicable to the correction or updating of DD 214s – DD Form 149. A DD 149 is more formally called "Application for Correction of Military Records," and it's used to update or revise information on your DD 214 not related to your discharge status. For example, if your DD 214 is missing information on an award, use DD Form 149 to request the award be added. DD 149s, however, aren't used to have the discharge status on your DD 214 changed.
DD Form 293
DD 214s also contain information on the type of discharge of former servicemembers. For example, a DD 214 for honorably discharged military members have one one code while dishonorably discharged members have different codes. If you received a military discharge under anything other than honorable conditions and would like it changed, use DD Form 293. Submit your DD 293, "Application for the Review of Discharge or Dismissal from the Armed Forces of the United States," to your relevant service branch as well.
Review Board Submissions
Each military service branch plus the Coast Guard maintains a records review board to consider requests for updates or corrections to DD 214s. Generally, you have three years after discovery of an error on your DD 214 to have it corrected. You'll also need to fully demonstrate to your old military service's records review board that entries on your DD 214 were in error or unjust. Ensure you also submit supporting evidence such as signed witness statements when seeking correction of your DD 214.
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Tony Guerra served more than 20 years in the U.S. Navy. He also spent seven years as an airline operations manager. Guerra is a former realtor, real-estate salesperson, associate broker and real-estate education instructor. He holds a master's degree in management and a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies.