Army veterans and retirees who served on active duty or in the reserves and their family members are eligible to receive a variety of service-related documents for free. It's just a matter of knowing how.

Qualified applicants can get The rRecords and other documents are available and data from Human Resources Command, Department of Veterans Affairs, National Archives and other official sources.

Because the such documents are provided free to those qualified to receive them, applicants, and there is no reason to get acquire them from commercial firms that charge fees, according to Army officials.

A good first stop for information on how to get obtaining Army veteran service documents is HRC’s Human Resource Service Center which can be reached online at www.hrc.army.mil/TAGD/human resource service center; toll-free by phone telephone at 1-888-276-9472 or DIN 983-9500, or by email at ask-hrc@us.army.mil.

Phones are staffed weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Service center officials can provide specific information and addresses for submitting document requests to HRC, the VA, National Archives and Records Administration and other government agencies.

Most requests should be submitted on Standard Form 180 (Request Pertaining to Military Records).  The form can be downloaded for printing at www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf.

Here are tips to get is some information about five commonly requested documents and services:

DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty

Requests can be submitted on a dated and signed letter, but preferably on a SF Form 180 that provides details about what items a veteran believes are in error. If available, copies of supporting documents (divorce decrees, court orders, birth certificates, etc) should be included with the request.

Corrections typically involve the veteran's name, Social Security number, date of birth, place of birth and beginning and end dates of military service. Any corrections will be reflected on a DD Form 215 (Correction to DD Form 214).

Veterans can receive a copy of a lost DD Form 214 by submitting a request on a SF Form 180. Veterans who were never issued a DD Form 214 can request an issuance, provided there is enough information on file.

If there is not enough information in the record, HRC will issue a Transcript of Military Records (DA Form 1569) or a Statement of Service (AHRC Form 2496-E).  Both documents are authorized replacements for DD Form 214.

Statement of Military Service

Requests should be submitted on a SF Form 180. Statements will be a compilation of a veteran's service, from date of entry into the military to date of discharge or retirement.

The statement will include all promotions, grade reductions (if appropriate), dates of rank, character of service, reason for separation and all retirement points earned during a career.

Lost or missing military awards and decorations

Inquiries and requests for replacement medals should be submitted on a signed and dated letter or SF Form 180. Supporting documents, such as a copy of the veteran's DD Form 214, will facilitate the process.

Requests should be submitted to the National Archives and Records Administration, 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO 63138-1002. Call Telephonic inquiries should be made to (314) 801-0800.

College credits for military schooling

Many colleges and universities award credits for military training and education.  Veterans can request HRC to provide a transcript of their military schooling, which can then be used by colleges for determining education credits.

Veteran benefits

While the Army and HRC can verify a veteran's military service, requests for veteran benefits eligibility should be directed to a local Veterans Benefits Administration office, or the Department of Veteran Affairs.

One of the most popular benefits is the VA Home Loan. To qualify, veterans must provide proof of service to the VA with such documents as the DD Form 214, a Chronological Statement of Retirement Points (AHRC Forms 249-E or DARP 249) or the National Guard Bureau Retirement Credits Record (NGB Form 23).

Officials recommend that requests for proof of service be submitted to HRC at the same time a veteran contacts a mortgage company. Processing can take 30 to 45 days. Requests should be submitted on a SF 180 or a signed and dated letter.