Military records help prove military service when applying for jobs or government benefits. They’re also helpful for ancestry and historical research.
Types of Military Records
World War I - Present
You can find veterans’ military service records from World War I to the present from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC).
The NPRC houses many types of records, including Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF). These files can include the Report of Separation (DD Form 214) and show a veteran’s service history, which may include:
Enlistment or appointment and separation dates
Duty stations and assignments
Training and qualifications
Health and medical records of former military and some dependents are located in various places. This depends on the military branch and the date of separation.
Before World War I
You can find older military service records (generally before World War I) from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. These include:
Compiled service records - Basic biographical, medical, and military information taken from muster rolls, pay vouchers, and other records
Pension applications and payment records - Files include marriage certificates, birth records, death certificates, family letters, and other supporting papers. These records are based on U.S. military service from 1775 to 1916 and relate to veterans, their widows, and other heirs.
Bounty land - You’ll find basic genealogical information in these application files. Bounty land was granted as a reward to men for their wartime service between 1775 and March 3, 1855.
How to Request Military Records
Important to know:
Most military records are on paper or microfilm and copies will need to be mailed to you. They are not typically available to view online.
Records of military personnel who separated from the military:
Less than 62 years ago are federal (non-archival) records
More than 62 years ago are archival records
Request Recent Records (World War I - Present)
To get a copy of military records, a veteran or the next of kin of a deceased veteran can:
You can only get limited information about non-archival records (from 62 years ago to the present) without the consent of the veteran or next-of-kin. Learn about access to non-archival military records by the general public and researchers.
Request Older Records (Before World War I)
Fees for Military Records Requests
Most requests are free for veterans and next-of-kin. You will be told if there is a fee. Archival requests for military records, including records of veterans discharged more than 62 years ago, may have a cost.