The DD214 is the current form used by the military to prove separation from active duty military service. Prior to January 1, 1950, several other forms were used, including WD AGO 53, WD AGO 55, WD AGO 53-55, NAVPERS 553, NAVMC 78PD and NAVCG 553. People who ended their military service before 1950 may have one of these forms rather than a DD214.
The DD214 provides evidence of military service, which may be necessary to obtain VA benefits, employment, retirement and membership in veterans' organizations.
The DD214 contains information about the veteran's military service, including dates of active duty, military education, medals and awards, the date of separation and the type of separation. The DD214 also displays the holder's status with the Reserves or National Guard.
Some DD214s are public record. The state of Washington has passed a law exempting veteran records from public disclosure. The Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act must be balanced to provide privacy to the veteran while allowing the public access to some information.
Prior to 1974, DD214s contained numeric codes that characterized a soldier's conduct. These codes referenced behavior relating to drugs, homosexuality, misconduct and perceived mental or moral issues. Even if a veteran received an honorable discharge, he might be refused employment based upon such codes.