The key to all veteran's benefits is the military discharge document (DD 214, WD ago 53-55, NAVPERS). This document contains a summary of your military service as well as personal identifying information. This document is used for obtaining disability benefits, home loan guaranty certificates, burial benefits, and obtaining legal identification. Without this document you may not be able to enroll in the VA Healthcare System or apply for state veteran's benefits. It may also delay the processing time for federal benefits.
If you filed a copy of your discharge with the county recorder upon leaving the service you can contact that office and receive a certified true copy at no cost.
If you did not file a copy with the county recorder, you may obtain a copy of your discharge or any of your military records from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO. You must complete and send in a Standard Form 180 (SF 180). This form must be filled out completely and signed before you will receive your records. All records requested will be sent to you at no cost. In most cases it takes from 8 weeks to 6 months to receive your records.