Verify Your Military Service
Validating your military service is extremely important and can be difficult. However, there are some free services that you can use to validate your service. Ideally, you validate it once and then you are done with it. Let’s start off with the basics first.
There are several methods that you can use to verify your military service.
When you got out of the Military, you should have received a copy of your DD-214. Back in the 80s-90s, they would hand you a copy before you left, but as I understand it today, many modern-day veterans will get a copy mailed to them several months after they exit the service. Though I disagree with that process, I obviously cannot change it, but I can voice my opinion on how lazy that is. In fact, it may screw veterans out of being able to use the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. I will make a post very soon on how to obtain a copy of your DD-214. Then I will update this post, with links to that new post. IT SHOULD NOT COST YOU MONEY TO OBTAIN YOUR DD-214
A Form DD 256 is a certificate of honorable discharge utilized by the U.S. Department of Defense and the different branches of military service. An honorable discharge occurs when a service person successfully completes a term of duty with one of the military branches.
VA Issued ID Card for Health Care (VHIC)
If you are using the VA for health care services or using it for disability payments, then you likely already have a VA Issued ID Card. You can use that to verify your service.
State Issued Drivers License
Under the new Real ID Act, the State Issued RealID has “Veteran” embossed on it if you provided the correct documentation to prove your veteran status.
Online Verification Services
ID.me was developed by two former Army Rangers, Matt Thompson and Blake Hall (Source). They are the grandfathers of the military online identification systems, setting up shop in 2011 as Troopswap and then TroopId. Their concept is simple, help to prove the digital identity of those who have or are currently serving their country.
You have one of four methods that you can use to prove your identity. ID.me uses several methods to validate that you are in the military or a veteran
- If you are an existing member of USAA, they can use that to help verify your status
- You can enter your service information and use that to confirm your status. They will use that information to validate you against several databases
- If you have a .mil account, they can use that to validate your service status
- You can upload documents such as your DD-214 to validate your military status
Once you have been verified, you no longer need to verify yourself again. When you go to a website that partners with the ID.me service, you simply enter your ID.me login credentials and you are instantly verified.
When I set up my ID.me account close to 10 years ago, I had to provide my Name, birthday, a branch of service, and the dates of service and they verified me in a few seconds. Once you have an account, you simply log in with your ID.me account at participating companies and organizations and you are immediately verified as a veteran. I use mine all the time on the VA.gov website.
Find the discount that you would like to take advantage of, Click the offer, and either Sign in or create an account. VerifyPass claims that 89% of those that create an account are verified under 60 seconds. Once you have been verified, you will no longer be required to verify again (some services like this require annual verification for some reason). They claim that 51% of those that are verified, used the automated online process. They also claim that 36% have been verified using the DEERS process. They also can verify if you are using a .mil email address and if you upload official paperwork like a DD-214, ID from the Veteran’s Affairs, a Veteran’s driver’s license, and G.I. Bill Documents.
This means that if you served and meet the requirements you should be able to have a great chance of being verified really quickly without having to jump through too many hoops.
When I created my account about six years ago, I was approved using the automated process in under 60 seconds. I had to enter my SSN, and my branch of service and I am fairly certain I had to enter the date I got out.
The Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) serves under the Office of the Secretary of Defense to collate personnel, manpower, training, financial, and other data for the Department of Defense. They have a method by that you can request a certificate of military service. I’m not entirely sure what you can use this for. If you have the details you can request one for someone else. You know, check for stolen valor.
- Create an account (it is a pain, but it provides quick results) – Enter your name, email, phone, address, and three security questions, plus a few CAPTCHAs for good measure
- Perform a Single-Record Search
- SSN (not required), Birthday, last, first, middle, and Active Duty Status Date **The key is the Active Duty Status Date and their description of it isn’t good. You need to have a date, of when the person was serving. I.E. if they served from March 01, 1988 – June 01, 1992, then the date you put in that box should be between those dates (not one of those dates or it will fail), if not it will still produce a PDF, but it will not be accurate.
- Save PDF and view it
Mine came back in a few seconds and it was accurate, it had my start and end dates and the service that I was in.
The webmaster of the DMDC site seems to really love the picture CAPTCHAs for some reason. I mean I have designed websites and I do not use them. I had to solve 3 or 4 just to create an account and search for a single record. Though the DMDC site is functional (barely) and the report does confirm your military status (barely), like anything else government, the very bare minimum was done to get the job done. As I had stated, finding someone online using this method will be very much trial and error. You need to know the SSN to really confirm and you also need to know the dates they served. And the report gives you confirmation and nothing more. It might have just given you a YES on the screen and accomplished the same thing. But I guess it does work, so I will move on.
Login.gov claims that you can use it to securely log in to government agencies and access government services. Login.gov is a secure sign-in service used by the public to sign in to participating government agencies. Participating agencies will ask you to create a Login.gov account to securely access your information on their website or application.
You can use the same username and password to access any agency that partners with Login.gov. This streamlines your process and eliminates the need to remember multiple usernames and passwords.
Ironically, I created an account and it failed to allow me to log in.
I am sure there are some other methods, and if you know of a good one, please let me know so I can include it here and hopefully help out some fellow veterans.
My personal experience has been that I use my ID.me account for the Veteran’s Administration website and for the Veterans Advantage website. Beyond that, I don’t use it. I use my RealID Driver’s License for just about anything else.