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How to Find Out if Someone Was in the Military? – 5 Easy Ways

Written by Everett Bledsoe / Fact checked by Brain Bartell

how to find out if someone was in the military

Being in the military is proud-worthy. You can also get a lot of perks, such as discounts, when you are a service member or a veteran. And because of this, some people would pretend or pose as military members. Some people also do this to scam in the online dating realm.

There are many stories of others lying about their military service. So how to find out if someone was in the military for real? This article will walk you through some of the ways you can verify military service. Read everything to get a good idea of all the options you have.

Option 1: DFAS

DFAS is short for Defense Finance and Accounting Service. It was initially established in 1991 as a finance managing agency of the DoD (Department of Defense).

But over time, it has expanded into providing other services, such as military verification service. You can access its Defense Manpower Data Center to find proof of military service online for active duty as well as retired military personnel.

Here is how you go about it:

Step 1: Go to the Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Website


Either search “Service Members Civil Relief Act” online and click to land on the first website result that comes up or click this website link here.

Step 2: Create a SCRA Account

Find the ‘Create an account’ button in the upper right-hand corner and click on it. You will be taken to a new tab where there are blank fields to be filled out. Do this, and make sure you complete creating your challenge question, adding your additional information, etc. Once you have an account, move on to the next steps.

Step 3: Request for a Single or Multiple Record

You should choose a Single record if you want to confirm just one person’s military service; the Multiple is for if you are seeking more than one. You will have to register for the latter, but it is free of charge.

When you click on Single record or Multiple records, the page will navigate to another space, where you must put in the information for the required field. After that, you can click ‘Submit.’

Here is a sample of the screen for a Single record. The required fields are the ones with a red asterisk. You must fill these out in order to click ‘Submit.’

You will get a report that looks something like this:

You can get information on when a person’s active duty started and ended, and the branch they were in. As such, you can check if a soldier is real. However, if you want to get more detailed information, like the schools the person attended, the awards they received, etc, the second option will be better.

Option 2: FOIA


FOIA is an abbreviation for the Freedom of Information Act. With this option, you are filing for an FOIA request, which can give you access to military service records and enable you to verify if someone is in military service.

Here are the steps that you must take:

Step 1: Complete an FOIA Request Letter

You just need to type out or write out your request on a sheet of paper. You can check the sample requests we have compiled from various sources to get an idea of what you should have on your request:

If you want to seek information about someone’s military past or current status as a(n):

  • Individual – Click here.
  • News Media Personnel – Click here.
  • Private Corporation Personnel – Click here.
  • College, University, or Educational Institute Personnel – Click here.

Once you fill out your FOIA request, proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Submit Your FOIA Request Letter

There are two ways to submit your FOIA request letter. One option is via Snail Mail and the other option is via email. Choose one of the options and send the FOIA request letter to your specific military branch but keep in mind that each branch has its own FOIA department.

For the Army

Your contact person is Alecia Boiling.

  • Office Address: Suite 144, 7701 Telegraph Road, Room 150, Alexandria, VA 22315-3905
  • Telephone Number: 703-428-7128
  • Email Address: [email protected]
  • Online Submission Link:

They can help you find a soldier in the Army by searching for Army records. This applies for both current soldiers and veterans (back to 62 years). They can also tell you if a person received an honorable discharge.

For the Air Force

Your contact person is JoAnne Collins.

  • Office Address: 1000 Air Force Pentagon, Washington, DC 20330-1000
  • Telephone Number: (703) 693-2735
  • Email Address: [email protected]
  • Online Submission Link:

Examples of information that you can get include a person’s military service number, discharge status, enlistment date, etc. 

For the Navy

Your contact person is Robin Patterson.

  • Office Address: DNS-36, 2000 Navy Pentagon, Washington, DC 20350-2000
  • Telephone Number: 202-685-0412
  • Email Address: [email protected]
  • Online Submission Link:

Like the Air Force, The Navy will give you info on a person’s service number, discharge status, enlistment dates, etc.

For the Marine Corps

Your contact person is Sally A. Hughes.

  • Office Address: 3000 Marine Corps Pentagon, Washington, DC 20350-3000
  • Telephone Number : (703) 614-4008
  • Email Address: [email protected]
  • Online Submission Link:

The Marine Corps will give you the same personnel information as the other branches: service number, discharge status, enlistment dates, etc.

For the Coast Guard

There is no single contact person. You should reach an Attn FOIA officer.

  • Office Address: Stop 7710, 2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE, Washington, D.C. 20593-7710
  • Telephone Number: (202) 475-3522
  • Email Address: [email protected]

Step 3: Wait for A Response

The FOIA will send you a confirmation letter after they have received your request. They may also give you a number to track your request processing.

It will take some time for a military lookup by name, so be patient! The more information you request, the longer it will take. In general, though, the wait time is between 4 and 8 weeks.

There will be no submission fee. But you may be charged depending on what your specific requests are. If the search takes less than 2 hours, involving less than 100 pages, you will not be charged.

Note: If you want, you can specify how much you are willing to pay in your request letter.

Option 3: NPRC

NPRC stands for the National Personnel Records Center. You can get info by visiting the NPRC in person at St. Louis, Missouri or make a request online. The NPRC houses military discharge records public of all personnel in the 20th century.

Note: If you need to look for records prior to World War I, you need to visit the NPRC in Washington, DC.

Like the second option, you need to make and submit a written request. The steps are as follows:

Step 1: Go to the National Personnel Records Center Website

Click on this link to go to the official NPRC website.

Step 2: Locate Standard Form 180 (SF-180)

On the landing page, you should be able to find the words Standard Form 180 (SF-180) hyperlinked. You can click on it to download a copy.

Step 3: Complete the SF-180

Print out the SF-180 copy that you have just downloaded and fill it out with all the pertinent information.

Step 4: Mail the SP-180 Form to the NPRC

The National Personnel Records Center’s address is 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, Missouri, 63138.

Step 5: Wait for A Response

As with the FOIA, you need to allow time for the NPRC to receive and process your SP-180 form request.

You can check and track your request processing through the Online Status Update Request form or call 1 – 866 – 272 – 6272 for free. Note that the NPRC is open from 8 am to 4 pm CST Monday to Friday. They are not open on weekends and Federal holidays.

Wait at least 10 days before following up.

Option 4: DD-214

If someone is claiming to be a veteran and you want to check for verification, you can ask that person for a copy of their DD-214.

The DD-214 is short for the DD Form 214. It is also commonly referred to as the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.


Every service member upon discharge is provided one. It does not matter if that person was in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard. 

There is a short version and long version of the DD-214.

  • The short one will give you info on the nature and type of discharge and re-enlistment code.
  • The long one will tell you details of type of service, reason for separation, etc.

Some people will go as far as having a fake DD-214. Although not fool-proof, here are signs you can keep in mind to spot a fraud:

  • Contain spelling errors, typos, and grammatical mistakes.
  • Discrepancies between service type and schooling or training.
  • Cross check info on the DD-214 with the person vocally.
  • It’s best to check the service dates and discharge reason If they stutter or need to look at the DD-214 to answer, there is a good chance that they are lying.

Option 5: Online Military Background Check Service

There are services available to check a person’s military background. However, they are not free. Consider whether you want to shell out money to check if a person is or was in the military. If yes, consider these:

  • – You need to create an account and sign up for a subscription to run a search.
  • – You can do the lookup with a name, address, or phone number.


As you have read in this article on how to find out if someone was in the military, there are a few options, such as making a request through the DFAS, the FOIA, or the NPRC, asking to see a DD-214, and availing of an online military background check service. 

Hopefully, you have found a preferable way from our article. Which did you choose? Let us know below! 

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