The DD214 is the government document that is the record of your service in the armed forces and the character of your discharge. I have brought this up before, and will again, I will beat this drum from here till I pass the torch for this office. If you do not have this document and you wish to apply for benefits, the first step will be requesting the document from the holding agency. Sometimes it takes a couple weeks, other times months; it is your time to spend. Worse than the delay in applying for benefits is when your spouse comes in to the office to get help due to unexpected situations and they have a need for the support the VA owes and you guessed it, we have to wait until your documents can be requested. Now it is true that in many of these cases you won’t be around anymore so I cannot nag at you for not getting the records straight but the extra aggravation falling on your spouse’s shoulders and the burden it places on them is hard to watch. Without documentation, requests do not get processed. As much as we care and want to help, we are hitting a brick wall.

It will take a few moments of your time to either fill out an SF180 and mail or fax, or go on line to www.archives.gov/veterans, fill it out, print and fax or mail. I actually carry the SF180s in my personal automobile for persons to be able to request out of the blue. Do it and do it now, I am hip deep in spouses whose husbands did not do this simple task and are now waiting. As always, at your service.

Charles B. Elliott is the veterans service officer for Franklin County. He can be reached at 653-8096, or by cellphone at 653-7051, or by email to Veteranservice@franklincountyflorida.com