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What is My Military Service Number and Where Can I Find It?

After 1974, the Social Security number functioned as the military ID for most US military service members (SSN). To obtain a copy of your DD Form 214 or other military papers, you must provide your ID number.

You can get benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other military services offered by the federal government by showing proof of your service.

Why Do Soldiers Need Social Security Numbers?

Requesting military records or one’s Official Military Personnel File (OMPF) from the National Personnel Records Center requires a service number or Social Security Number (NPRC). Here are some of the details kept in these files:

  • DD 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty)
  • DD 215 (Request for rectification on DD 214)
  • Dissolution of Marriage Report
  • Additional Release Paperwork

Military IDs, as well as benefits from the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Veterans Administration (VA), require the following paperwork from several government agencies:

  • Aid with housing costs and loans
  • The Value of Education
  • Positive Health Effects
  • Payment in Lieu of Work
  • Compensation for final expenses like burial
  • Assistance in Pursuing a Profession
  • Helping Veteran-Owned Businesses Succeed
  • Disability compensation for veterans
  • Protection against death via prepayment
  • Advantages only available to those who qualify (e.g., aviation bonuses for Air Force members)

Documents detailing a veteran’s service record are available upon request to veterans and their legal representatives.

  • Directives and support
  • Reports on Efficiency and Productivity
  • Accolades and decorations
  • Credentials, registrations, and certifications
  • Permission to proceed with security clearance
  • Indications for treatment

What Happens If You Don’t Know Your Military ID?

The DD Form 214 is where you may find your military ID number if you served in the military before the transition to SSNs.

On the following dates, the military stopped using service numbers as a means of identification:

  • Air Force and Army – 1 July 1969
  • Recruiting for the Navy and Marine Corps Begins on January 1, 1972
  • October 1, 1974 – Coast Guard

If you have misplaced your DD 214, you may obtain a replacement at no cost from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC).

What is a DD 214?

The DD-214 certifies that a service member has been released from active duty. After being discharged from the military, each service member has been given a copy of Form DD 214. It’s either handed over in person at the workplace where they were let go, or mailed to them. The following data is included:

  • Recommendation for Discharge (honorable, dishonorable, general, other than honorable)
  • When and where you reported for duty Home address when you reported for duty Date and location of your release Home address after you separated from the military
  • Title, a branch of service, and date of separation
  • Training for the Military
  • Specialty in the Armed Forces (MOS)
  • Campaign ribbons, medals, trophies, and citations
  • The sum of one’s domestic and international service credit
  • Distinction-related data not included (date of separation, the reason for separation, reenlistment eligibility codes, etc.)

How long do you have to wait to receive your military file?

A record request typically takes between six and eight weeks to process, not including the time it takes for your documents to arrive at the NPRC via mail. The time it takes to process your request will be affected by its complexity, the accessibility of the records, and the number of requests currently being processed.

When Can You Expect to Hear Back About the Progress of Your Request?

Make sure you give the National Personnel Records Center plenty of time to receive and complete your request. After that, you can use your request number to look up your status on eVetRecs.

Use the Online Status Update Request form on the National Archives official website and supply the following information if you do not know your request number:

  • Who is making the request and where they may be reached at
  • Military branch served in by the veteran; this will aid in locating the request on the NPRC’s database.

Obtaining Your Military History in Other Ways

The best way to access military records is to submit a request by mail. But there’s more!

You can either send a letter to the NPRC Contact or go to the local veteran’s service office in your area.


In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the U.S. government began a gradual elimination of service numbers. Those who recruited following the policy shift now identify themselves in the military by their Social Security Numbers. These are the numbers that active and retired troops use to access their service records and gain access to the benefits to which they are entitled.