Genealogy and Military Records

The United States military keeps detailed records of its servicemen and -women making it the perfect resource for your genealogical search. From the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783, to the Vietnam War, 1955-1975, and beyond there are detailed service records. These resources are an invaluable tool in the search for your family.

National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is a great place to start your genealogy search. The NARA is an agency of the US government responsible for preserving and documenting government and historical records. Military service records are available through the NARA website.

National Personnel Records Center

The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) is the branch of the NARA that holds records related to military and civil service. Most military and medical records are available upon request to next of kin. DD Form 214, Report of Separation, can be used in most cases to obtain these records. The NPRC is also responsible for holding Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) pre-1990 which can also be obtained through special request. Military records include the following information:

  • Enlistment/ appointment;
  • Duty stations and assignments;
  • Training, qualification, performance;
  • Awards and medals;
  • Disciplinary actions;
  • insurance;
  • emergency data;
  • administrative remarks;
  • separation/discharge/retirement;
  • And other personnel actions.

Naturalization through Military Service

The US government gives military servicemen and women the option to obtain US citizenship. Naturalization at Basic Training was established in August 2009. Enlistees may start the citizenship application process during basic combat training. Spouses and children of enlistees are also eligible. Honorable service for one year and US permanent residency allow servicemen and women the option for citizenship as well. Permanent residency is available through separate processes.

Since 2002, over 70,000 service members have been naturalized and since 2005 nearly 10,000 spouses have been naturalized alongside them. Naturalization ceremonies take place the world over, from Afghanistan to Bahrain to El Salvador. Integrating our dedicated protectors, the members of the US military, permanently and absolutely into US society has become a tenet of American culture.

Key Terms

"mustered in" or "mustered out" -these term is used to identify when a person has officially entered into military service (mustered in) and when that person has been officially discharged from service (mustered out).

bounty land -in reference to bounty land warrants related to wartime service between 1775 and March 3, 1855. These may be useful if your relative served in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, early Indian Wars or the Mexican War.

Report of Separation -a document identifying the veteran's condition or discharge, whether it was honourable, general or otherwise. This document, also known was DD Form 214 or DD214, is necessary to verify military service for benefits, retirement or employment.

census -a population count of the United States taken every 10 years. The United States census counts citizens, immigrants, nonimmigrants and undocumented persons living in the United States. The purpose is to create a comprehensive demographic image of the country in order to draw accurate congressional districts and determine the number of representatives in the House of Representatives.

Genealogy Military Resources