Beyond medical records, beyond medals and beyond pay stubs, the most important document a veteran can have is a DD 214. The DD 214, or the Department of Defense Form 214, shows how long a military veteran served, what type of discharge he/she had, and what benefits he/she is entitled to. It isn't a large complicated form but it possesses key information needed to obtain death benefits from the Veterans Administration.
If you are planning ahead you can request a copy of a DD214 from the National Archives using the link below.
If your request is urgent (e.g. upcoming funeral) and there is a deadline associated with your request, please provide this information in the "Purpose" section of the SF-180 and fax it to Customer Service at (314) 801-0764 and then contact customer service at (314) 801-0800 if you have questions or require same day service. The staff of Frank J. Barone would also be glad to assist you.
SF-180; Request for Military Records