When either a Veteran or a Surviving Spouse is applying for Improved Pension or death pension benefit, the Department of Veterans Affairs will request an original or certified copy of the Veteran’s separation papers (Record of Service, Report of Separation or DD Form 214) to verify military service; however, the VA does not maintain Veterans’ military records.

According to the VA, if either a Veteran or a Surviving Spouse submits original documents, those will be returned to you. If submitting copies of DD Form 214 or other separation documents, VA regulations require that any copy or abstracts be certified by a public custodian of records who certifies that it is a true and exact copy of the document in the custodian’s custody. Additionally, service organization representatives who have successfully completed VA-prescribed training on military records can certify that it is a true and exact copy of either an original document or a copy issued by the service department of public custodian records.

When the Veteran’s separation papers are not available or for those not wanting to risk the possibility of original documents not being returned, a Record of Service, Report of Separation or DD Form 214 can be obtained from the Military Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, which is part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The processing time for documents from the NARA is generally 10 business days.

The mailing address of the NPRC for your completed SF-180 is:

National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138

For more information about obtaining your military record, please visit the NARA website. 


The recommended method of submitting a request to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) is the Standard Form (SF) 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records.

According to the NARA website: Although not mandatory, using the SF-180 is the recommended method to send a request for military service information. This form captures all the necessary information to locate a record. Provide as much information on the form as possible and send copies of any service documents that you may have.

For advice and assistance in completing your SF-180, please Contact Us and we will have one of our VA accredited attorneys or their legal staff aid you.

The advice for completing your SF-180 comes from one of our VA accredited attorneys.

Download form SF-180