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Veterans can file their DD-214s with the Saline County Circuit Clerk’s Office

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The DD-214 form is an official document issued by the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard at the time of discharge or separation from military service. The DD-214 is commonly referred to as "discharge papers."

The Department of Defense advises all discharged personnel to file a copy of their DD-214 at their local court house. In Arkansas, DD-214s are filed in the circuit clerk’s office. A copy is kept as a part of the circuit clerk’s official records. The original is returned to the filer. There is no charge to have a DD-214 filed with the Saline County Circuit Clerk’s Office.

Once it has been officially filed, the original DD-214 should be kept in a safe place and a family member or trusted friend should be told of its location.

"DD" is short for Department of Defense. The first DD-214s were issued in 1950. It replaced the older "WD AGO" (War Department Adjutant General) forms and the NAVPERS (Naval Personnel) discharge documents. These documents had existed since 1941.

The DD-214 is the capstone military service document. It represents the complete, verified record of a service member's time in the military, awards and medals and other pertinent service information, such as promotions, combat service or overseas service Military Occupational Specialty code and record of training and schools completed.

There are two versions of the DD-214, usually referred to simply as "short" or “edited” and "long" or “unedited” copies. The edited copy omits a great deal of information, chiefly the characterization of service and reason for discharge. The unedited copy is generally what is requested by veterans' organizations, employers, and law enforcement agencies.

The DD-214 is the most important post-military document issued to a veteran. It should be treated the same as a marriage certificate, divorce decree, adoption papers or other important records.

In many cases, separated or retired service members are required to have a DD-214 to claim benefits post-retirement or separation. Two examples of these benefits are the GI Bill and VA home loans. Both programs require a DD-214 for the veteran to be approved for either program.

Since Jan. 1, 2000, every armed forces veteran and member on active duty or in the active reserve has had the right to be buried with patriotic flourishes provided by a military honor guard. Military Funeral Honors is a statutory benefit to all veterans. The National Defense Authorization Act requires that, upon the family's request, every eligible veteran is entitled to receive a military funeral honors ceremony to include folding, presentation of the United States burial flag and the sounding of taps. This is done at no cost to the family.

The only exception for receiving these honors is that the veteran have been discharged or released from the service under conditions other than dishonorable. A DD-214 is required to show the circumstances of the veteran’s discharge.

An official replacement DD-214 can be obtained from the National Personnel Records Center at the National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri. Copies can be obtained by going to this website: http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/

National Archives policy is that copies of a DD-214 may only be given to the veteran or his or her next of kin who need it for evidence of the veteran’s status. The next of kin can be any of the following: surviving spouse that has not remarried, father, mother, son, daughter, sister, or brother. A copy of a DD-214 can also be provided to someone who has the veteran’s power of attorney.

However, it can take up to three weeks to get a copy of a DD-214 and having a copy filed with the Saline County Circuit Clerk can make it quicker and easier for the family to locate a copy when seeking a military honor guard for a veteran’s funeral.

Filing a DD-214 with the Saline County Circuit Clerk’s Office provides both the veteran and the veteran’s family with the knowledge this important document will always be easily available in the future.

PLEASE NOTE: The 1973 Fire at the National Personnel Records Center damaged or destroyed 16-18 million Army and Air Force records that documented the service history of former military personnel discharged from 1912-1964. Although the information in many of these primary source records was either badly damaged or completely destroyed, often alternate record sources can be used to reconstruct the service of the veterans impacted by the fire. Sometimes we are able to reconstruct the service promptly using alternate records that are in our holdings, but other times we must request information from other external agencies for use in records reconstruction. In some instances, therefore, requests that involve reconstruction efforts may take several weeks to a month to complete.