The DD Form 256, an honorable discharge certificate, is used by the US Department of Defense and all military service branches to show that a service person has been honorably discharged. Generally, a person is honorably discharged when they complete their term of duty with the military successfully. DD Form 256 certifies this and can be used alongside a DD 214 and Point Statement to apply for lending. In this post, we look into this certificate, its meaning, and how to get one.
What Is a DD Form 256 “Honorable Discharge Certificate”?
A DD Form 256 Honorable Discharge Certificate is a formal certificate issued to a service member with a satisfactory military record by the military service or Department of Defense. It is awarded to show that the service member was honest, reliable, and conducted well during service. In some cases, a lender may request it when processing an application from a veteran.
How to Get a Copy of DD Form 256?
You receive a DD Form 256 when you officially separate from active duty. You can also be awarded a DD Form 257 General Discharge Certificate as an alternative.
Generally, all branches of the service keep personnel records for 5 to 10 years before forwarding them to the National Archives. So all you have to do is send in a request through the eVetRecs System available at the National Archives website or reach out to your service branch’s headquarters.
It is important to know that when you request your military records – by filing a Standard Form 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records – you won’t get the option of asking for your DD Form 256. Getting this certificate requires that you specify your situation in the application.
DD Form 256 “Honorable Discharge Certificate”
Elements of DA Form 1059
The DD Form 256 is a formal certificate and doesn’t contain as much information as other military documents. Generally, it consists of the following elements:
- A coat of arms for the military institution awarding the certificate
- Basic details about the recipient veteran, including the name
- The date of honorable discharge from service
- An authorizing signature
The legal information concerning a veteran’s discharge will not be present in the certificate but can be found on the accompanying DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.
How to Fill
In essence, a DD Form 256, Honorable Discharge Certificate, is a memorable certificate issued to a service member when they separate from active duty. All the legal information about the discharge is recorded in the DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, which means DD Form 256 is not very detailed. To fill it in, the authorizing figure:
- Indicates the current date
- Identifies the veteran by their full name
- States the date the veteran separated from service
- Signs the certificate
Are You Considered a Veteran with a DD 256?
Technically, yes. According to Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations, a veteran is any individual that has served a branch of the military service and been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. This means that you are a veteran if you were not dishonorably discharged from service and because a DD 256 Certificate process this, receiving it means you are a veteran.
Frequently Asked Questions
The duration within which the NPRC will respond to a document request will depend on the availability of the records, your request’s complexity, and their workload. That said, you can expect to receive your certificate within at least 10 days.
The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) maintains veteran military service records from World War 1 to today, including Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF). These files include the Report of Separation (DD Form 214) and service histories such as a veteran’s:
• Training and qualifications
• Separation dates
• Duty assignments and stations
• Disciplinary actions
United States Military branches have several terms for military discharges, some of them unique to each service and either formal or informal. However, the standard types of discharge from service are:
• Honorable discharge
• Other Than Honorable (OTH) discharge
• General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions
• Bad Conduct discharge (given by special or general court-martial)
• Dishonorable discharge
Other less common military discharges include Medical Separation, Entry-Level Separation, and Separation for Convenience of the Government.
DD 256: Related Forms
1. DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty
DD Form 214 is the most important discharge certificate because it consists of most of the details about a serviceman’s military service, including:
- Enrollment date
- Time spent in service
- Assignments and duties
- Discharge date
- Nature of discharge
- Reason for leaving
You can use this form to apply for VA benefits or attach it to a civilian job application.
2. DD Form 257, General Discharge Certificate
This form is awarded to servicemen who have completed their service successfully, but the available records are insufficient to determine whether they warrant an honorable discharge. It is given alongside a copy of DD Form 214.
3. DD Form 215, Correction to DD Form 214
This form is used to correct any errors identified in DD Form 214 and is used when applying for healthcare, tax benefits, education, compensation, etc. This is in case the original discharge documentation contains mistakes that affect the veteran’s eligibility.
4. NGB Form 22, National Guard Report of Separation and Record of Service
NGB Form 22 is similar to DD Form 214 but is used by the Air National Guard and Army. It highlights crucial details a serviceman may need to present for recruitment, including an overview of the time they served and how they were discharged. It can be corrected through NGB Form 22A, Correction to NGB Form 22.
5. Standard Form 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records
The Standard Form 180 helps you request the restoration or replacement of lost military documents. It is available on the eVetRecs System on the National Archives website.
6. Use DD Form 149, Application for Correction of Military Record
You complete this form when looking to obtain a copy of DD Form 215 or correct your military records.
When service members separate from service, they can receive a DD Form 256, an honorable discharge certificate if their discharge was not dishonorable. This certificate can come in handy when applying for a veteran loan because it shows you were honorably discharged from a certain military service branch. Generally, you obtain it by sending in your request to the NPRC or National Archives, depending on how much time has passed since you separated.