RT Cunningham


National Personnel Records Center - There is No Excuse for Failure

National Personnel Records Center Perhaps I’m being too harsh. Perhaps not. I requested a copy of my last DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, from the National Personnel Records Center and I received something else.

There’s no excuse for it. I spent most of my 20 years in the Marine Corps working in company and battalion admin offices. Every copy that was supposed be sent got mailed to where it was supposed to be sent, even when I had to do it myself. Of course, I didn’t have control over what happened to them after that.

Why did I contact the National Personnel Records Center?

I retired from active duty nearly 20 years ago (September of 1998). I had copies of everything I thought I would ever need. Sometime between then and 2006, I lost the folder with authenticated copies of every DD Form 214 I was issued. I may have a non-authenticated copy of the last one in the Philippines, which I didn’t think to bring with me when I decided on an extended vacation.

Because I was considering a trip to a Veterans Administration office to see if I was eligible for benefits, I requested an authenticated copy of my last DD Form 214 from the National Personnel Records Center. I have since found out I’m not eligible for any VA benefits.

I’m not disappointed because I wasn’t a prisoner of war, I didn’t get a Purple Heart (medal) for getting injured in combat and I have no service-connected disability. I’m happy I was healthy when I retired.

The Procedure for Requesting Separation Documents from the National Personnel Records Center

It’s not difficult. It starts at the page titled “Request Your Military Service Records”. I followed all the steps, careful to be accurate with everything and then printed it out. My daughter-in-law, Diann, faxed it from her office at work.

Diann faxed the form on August 2. The cover letter says their response was August 13. I received the documents yesterday, August 21. The instructions said it could take up to 90 days. Perhaps it should have.

What I Received from the National Personnel Records Center

I reenlisted three times during my 20 years and extended some of my contracts. Contracts never went over six years and three contracts would have only covered 18. I received DD Form 214’s for each reenlistment and one for my retirement. A total of four.

I expected to receive an authenticated copy of my last DD Form 214, from September of 1998. I received a cover letter with two copies of a different one, along with a copy of a DD Form 215 to correct yet a different one. None of them were authenticated even though the cover letter said they were.

The cover letter asked me to complete an online survey, which I completed today. I basically wrote the same thing I just wrote above in the only place I could enter comments.

I won’t be requesting anything from the National Personnel Records Center again. If they didn’t file the copies where they should have filed them within a 20-year time frame, I doubt they ever will. I’m not worried about it. They have my records somewhere.

I started receiving a pension after I retired and I received a letter from the President of the United States when I completed 30 years of service, which included 10 years of inactive reserve time. As long as I continue to receive the pension, I’m happy enough.

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By RT Cunningham
August 22, 2018