The Department of Veterans Affairs requires your DD214 to determine any health care benefits you may be eligible for after you retire or separate. The claims process will be easier with your DD214.

VA Health Care Benefits

VA health care and the DD214

When active duty, Guard and Reserve members perform final out processing from their branch of the service, there are many steps to be taken before getting a draft copy of the DD214.

Among the many steps in the journey to "final out" day is the option to get a medical screening and dental checkup. Not all branches of the service require members to get a medical review prior to final outprocessing and receipt of the draft of a DD214, but there is one important reason to schedule such appointments. Before you get your DD214 and enter into the VA Healthcare system, it's critical to identify any service-connected disabilities, health issues or other medical concerns that could affect your VA benefits. Once you've received your DD214 and have been cleared to proceed to your final appointment before retirement or separation, your medical records are "finalized" from the military's point of view. You won't have another chance to update your military medical records from the position of an active member of the military.

That means any conditions detected on further exams could be in question-however temporarily depending on the supporting documentation in your medical records. If your current medical issues are properly documented prior to getting your DD214, the entire claim process with the VA system will be simpler and easier to deal with. Most service members understand this much better after they've had their appointment to make their VA disability claims. This is a typical military appointment as part of retirement or separation, but it often happens only a few weeks or days before the final appointment---you might not have time to schedule a checkup by the time you have your VA claims and benefits briefing.

The best advice here-when you're offered the chance to get a final medical check before you outprocess, take it. You might not get another chance while on active duty. You don't technically need a medical screening in many cases to get your DD214, but it's a very important part of preparing for civilian life and any disability claims you make with the Department of Veterans Affairs.