Chapter 15 Military Medals and Records
Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors
Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors
Replacing Military Medals
Medals awarded while in active service are issued by the individual military services if requested by Veterans or their next of kin. Requests for replacement medals, decorations, and awards should be directed to the branch of the military in which the Veteran served. However, for Air Force (including Army Air Corps) and Army Veterans, the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) verifies awards and forwards requests and verification to appropriate services.
Requests for replacement medals should be submitted on Standard Form 180, “Request Pertaining to Military Records,” which may be obtained at VA offices or the Internet at www.va.gov/vaforms/. Forms, addresses, and other information on requesting medals can be found on the Military Personnel Records section of NPRC’s Website at www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel. For questions, call Military Personnel Records at (314) 801-0800, or e-mail questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
When requesting medals, type or clearly print the Veteran’s full name, include the Veteran’s branch of service, service number or Social Security number, and provide the Veteran’s exact orapproximate dates of military service. The request must contain the signature of the Veteran or next of kin if the Veteran is deceased. If available, include a copy of the discharge or separation document, WDAGO Form 53-55 or DD Form 214.
If discharge or separation documents are lost, Veterans or the next of kin of deceased Veterans may obtain duplicate copies through the eBenefits portal (www.ebenefits.va.gov) or by completing forms found on the Internet at www.archives.gov/research/index.html and mailing or faxing them to the NPRC.
Alternatively, write the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records, One Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO 63138- 1002. Specify that a duplicate separation document is needed. The Veteran’s full name should be printed or typed so that it can be read clearly, but the request must also contain the signature of the Veteran or the signature of the next of kin, if the Veteran is deceased. Include the Veteran’s branch of service, service number or Social Security number, and exact or approximate dates and years of service. Use Standard Form 180, “Request Pertaining To Military Records.” It is not necessary to request a duplicate copy of a Veteran’s discharge or separation papers solely for the purpose of filing a claim for VA benefits. If complete information about the Veteran’s service is furnished on the application, VA will obtain verification of service.
Correcting Military Records
The Secretary of a military department, acting through a Board for Correction of Military Records, has authority to change any military record when necessary to correct an error or remove an injustice. A correction board may consider applications for correction of a military record, including a review of a discharge issued by court-martial.
The Veteran, survivor, or legal representative must file a request for correction within three years of discovering an alleged error or injustice. The board may excuse failure to file within this time, however, if it finds it would be in the interest of justice. It is an applicant’s responsibility to show why the filing of the application was delayed and why it would be in the interest of justice for the board to consider it despite the delay. To justify a correction, it is necessary to show to the satisfaction of the board that the alleged entry or omission in the records was in error or unjust. Applications should include all available evidence, such as signed statements of witnesses or a brief of arguments supporting the correction. Application is made with DD Form 149, available at VA offices, Veterans organizations or visit www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/infomgt/forms/formsprogram.htm.
Review of Discharge from Military Service
Each of the military services maintains a discharge review board with authority to change, correct or modify discharges or dismissals not issued by a sentence of a general court-martial. The board has no authority to address medical discharges.
The Veteran or, if the Veteran is deceased or incompetent, the surviving spouse, next of kin or legal representative, may apply for a review of discharge by writing to the military department concerned, using DD Form 293, “Application for the Review of Discharge from the Armed Forces of the United States.” This form may be obtained at a VA regional office, from Veterans organizations or online at www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/infomgt/forms/formsprogram.htm.
However, if the discharge was more than 15 years ago, a Veteran must petition the appropriate Service’s Board for Correction of Military Records using DD Form 149, “Application for Correction of Military Records Under the Provisions of Title 10, U.S. Code, Section 1552.” A discharge review is conducted by a review of an applicant’s record and, if requested, by a hearing before the board.
Discharges awarded as a result of a continuous period of unauthorized absence in excess of 180 days make persons ineligible for VA benefits regardless of action taken by discharge review boards, unless VA determines there were compelling circumstances for the absence. Boards for the Correction of Military Records also may consider such cases.
Veterans with disabilities incurred or aggravated during active duty may qualify for medical or related benefits regardless of separation and characterization of service. Veterans separated administratively under other than honorable conditions may request that their discharge be reviewed for possible re-characterization, provided they file their appeal within 15 years of the date of separation. Questions regarding the review of a discharge should be addressed to the appropriate discharge review board at the address listed on DD Form 293.
Physical Disability Board of Review
Veterans separated due to disability from Sept. 11, 2001, through Dec. 31, 2009, with a combined rating of 20 percent or less, as determined by the respective branch of service Physical Evaluation Board (PEB), and not found eligible for retirement, may be eligible for a review by the Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR).
The PDBR was established to reassess the accuracy and fairness of certain PEB decisions, and where appropriate, recommend the correction of discrepancies and errors. A PDBR review will not lower the disability rating previously assigned by the PEB, and any correction may be made retroactively to the day of the original disability separation. As a result of the request for review by the PDBR, no further relief from the Board of Corrections of Military Records may be sought, and the recommendation by the PDBR, once accepted by the respective branch of service, is final. A comparison of these two boards, along with other PDBR information, can be viewed at www.health.mil/pdbr.
The Veteran or, if the Veteran is deceased or incompetent, the spouse or surviving spouse, next of kin or legal representative, may apply for a review using DD Form 294, “Application for a Review by the Physical Disability Board of Review (PDBR) of the Rating Awarded Accompanying a Medical Separation from the Armed Forces of the United States.” As part of the review process, the PDBR considers the rating(s) previously awarded by VA. The completion of VA Form 3288, “Request for and Consent to Release of Information from Individual’s Records,” along with DD Form 294, allows the PDBR to request VA records. Both forms can be downloaded from the PDBR website at www.health.mil/pdbr. These forms may also be obtained at a VA Regional Office (VARO), from a veterans service organization (VSO) or online at