DD-214: An Important Document for the Veteran Job Hunt

which dd214 do i give employers

According to the Government Accountability Office, approximately 20,000 people transition from the military to civilian life each year. But they don’t just walk away from military service empty handed. The most important document a service member will ever receive from the military is the DD Form 214. Why? Because this form is an official military document that serves as the holy grail of job hunting for veterans.

If you thought the resume was the key to landing the job you deserve as a military veteran, keep reading to hear what the professional military to civilian resume writers at Empire Resume has to say about the DD 214 and how it helps veterans get hired.

Brief History of the DD Form 214

Before we dive in, let’s give you a little DD-14 history. Before January 1, 1950, each branch of military service had its own discharge paperwork, such as:

  • WD AGO 53 – Enlisted Record and Report of Separation Honorable Discharge
  • WD AGO 55 – Honorable Discharge from the Army of the United States
  • NAVPERS 553 – Notice of Separation from U.S. Naval Service
  • NAVMC 78PD – U.S. Marine Corps Report of Separation
  • NAVCG 55 – Notice of Separation from U.S. Coast Guard

When the government realized it would be easier to have one discharge form for all service branches, the DD Form 214 was born.

For more information about the military’s discharge forms, review the VA’s complete list of discharge documents. 

What is the DD-214?

which dd214 do i give employers

The DD Form 214 or Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, commonly known as DD214, is provided to military members prior to separating from more than 90 consecutive days of service.

This Report of Separation acts as proof of separation from service and contains relevant information pertaining to a military member’s time in service including:

  • Date and location of entry into active duty
  • Home address upon entering the military or home of record
  • Date and location of release from active duty
  • The last duty assignment
  • The last rank or paygrade obtained
  • The job specialty
  • Military education
  • Medals, badges, and awards earned while in service
  • Foreign service credit
  • The type of separation from the military such as honorable or dishonorable

The DD-214 also contains a military veteran’s social security number. This speaks to how vital this document is. It is one that a veteran should never lose as it has enough information for someone to steal a veteran’s identity.

Empire Resume recommends the DD Form 214 be kept in a secure, fireproof place and that every veteran has at least 10 copies available.

Who Can Receive a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty?

which dd214 do i give employers

All active-duty members who have at least 90 days of service will receive a discharge document upon separation.

National Guard members and Reservists who were never called-up to active duty will not receive a DD 214. Unfortunately, according to the VA, there’s no single form used by the Reserves or Guard like the DD Form 214. Reservists and Guard members are responsible for showing proof of service that reflects 6 years of honorable service.

The VA states:

“If you were discharged from the Selected Reserves or the National Guard, you must include copies of adequate documentation of at least 6 years of honorable service. If you were discharged from the Army or Air Force National Guard, you may submit NGB Form 22, Report of Separation and Record of Service, or NGB Form 23, Retirement Points Accounting, or its equivalent. If you were discharged from the Selected Reserve, you may submit a copy of your latest annual points statement and evidence of honorable service.” 

Guard or Reservists may receive a DD Form 214 at certain points in their careers such as separating from an active-duty unit, completing job training, or returning home from a deployment. Drill training periods do not count towards the 90-day period.

Can I Receive More Than One DD 214?

Based on the nature of service, it is possible for a service member to have more than one DD 214.

For example, if you’re a member of the Guard or Reserves and you’ve served on active duty more than once, you may be issued more than one DD Form 214.

How the DD Form 214 Helps Veterans When Job Hunting

which dd214 do i give employers

The Report of Separation or DD-214 is a key document that a veteran may overlook until it is needed for proving military service for life’s greatest events, such as obtaining a VA mortgage, retirement, divorce proceedings, becoming a member in veterans’ organizations, employment, and more.

For the veteran job hunt, the DD-214 serves as proof of military service. Think about it, military service cannot be based on the honor system. Imagine how many people would say they are a veteran just to take advantage of and abuse veterans’ benefits. To keep everyone honest and prevent wrong doers from claiming veteran status, many employers, specifically military friendly employers, use the DD Form 214 as a validation tool.

A copy of your DD 214 is an important document to have as you begin finding jobs. Besides your resume, it tells a hiring manager that you can handle the job. It gives the big picture perspective of how you can be a great asset to the company. Believe it or not, many veterans have been hired based on the information contained in the DD-214 alone.

Keep in mind, in the civilian world, those who have served in the military have veterans’ preference when it comes to gaining employment. To claim veterans’ preference, you must provide a copy of your DD 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, or other acceptable documentation. The DD 214 is your proof of military service.

If for some reason you cannot locate your DD 214, you can request a copy free of charge with the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for service-members transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.

Related Articles: