By Marsha M. Brown
During the last month I’ve come to realize one plain and simple truth…that way too many veterans who have been discharged from our United States military have not filed their DD 214 with our Dare County Register of Deeds office. If you are a veteran or a family member of a veteran, I implore you to do so as soon as possible.
In talking to a lot of our local veterans, I came to know that most think the Certificate of Honorable Discharge is the most important document testifying to military service and discharge. It is of course, an official testament to having served BUT…the Form DD 214 is as my sweetie pie Billy puts it…”a veterans birth certificate”. It is vital to a veteran and nothing equates to the value of a DD-214 when it comes to veteran benefits and entitlements etc.
According to the Veterans Administration a DD Form 214 (Report of Separation) proves military service. I suggest that each veteran or family member who reads this column do the following: (1) Check to make sure the veteran who has been discharged has a legible DD 214 in your family records. (2) If you do have one on hand, determine if you have registered it with the Dare County Register of Deeds office. (3) In times of emergency it may be critical that your DD 214 can be easily accessed from an official source quickly. (4) In the case of death, the Military requires two things to be Faxed to them in order to provide Military Honors for the deceased veteran; the DD 214 Form and the form the relative Funeral Director fills out regarding the service of the deceased that together will enable the Military to drape a U. S. Flag over the casket and provide the beautiful sound of TAPS as the Flag is folded to present to the spouse or family. It’s important to note that while money is the least of a family’s concerns at a time like that, there is no charge for the Flag or TAPS and presentation of the Flag. And we all know that that special honor is not bestowed on everyone…it is for the honor and memory of a fallen comrade…a veteran who has served our country and who has been Honorably Discharged.
It takes time to look through old family records I know but please do it for yourself, your spouse and your children. Once you find it, make sure your family knows exactly where to locate it and then call (252-475-5970) or go to the Register of Deeds office at the Dare County Courthouse to verify its been registered there. On several occasions, I’ve spoken to Toni Midgett, Assistant to the Register of Deeds, who as always has been extremely helpful. Toni is very sweet and she (and others) will help determine if it has been filed or not. I cannot express enough the importance of doing this. It’s a fact that many veterans when returning home not only didn’t register the form but haven’t looked at or for it since.
This is my opinion in case it matters – every single man or woman who has worn a uniform of the United States Military, no matter the time they served, should be proud…I mean really proud. And each of you are entitled to receive those special honors at your passing. You more than deserve it. According to a representative at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, a veteran must have been Honorably Discharged in order to have the military services provided.
Per Wikipedia, the DD 214 is the “capstone military service document”. It provides valuable information to the veteran regarding when he/she was inducted and discharged; their blood type; rank at the time of discharge; “members time in the military; awards and medals; promotions; combat service or overseas service; MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) identifiers and record of training and schools completed”. The DD 214 is used by government agencies especially the Department of Veterans Affairs to secure veteran benefits. The Wikipedia article further states that the DD 214 may be requested by employers should a person indicate he/she has served in the Military. In addition, the form also includes the reason for discharge and the veteran’s reenlistment eligibility.
The article further explains: DD 214 Copy 4 – Member is the main copy the veteran receives upon release from active duty. It is the service member’s personal copy and will not be replaced. However, if you have misplaced the one you got originally, you can obtain a DD 214 Copy 2 – Service Personnel File copy through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
If you have moved into Dare County from another area where you may have already registered your DD 214, it’s still a good idea to register it with the Dare County Register of Deeds office for convenience and for future reference. But, that is up to you. There is no charge to register the document.
Rhonda Creef, Dare County Veterans Service Officer is more than happy to help a veteran, widow or widower with info regarding a choice of one of two grave markers to a deceased veteran’s family to earmark their service.
Until next time, be happy, be safe, be proud…please thank a veteran and stay tuned…