The Assets Admiral Association was contacted aftermost ages by the ancestors of an Army Reservist from Georgia who served in World War II and the Korean War, and had afresh died. As an infantry officer, he had accustomed the Purple Heart and Silver Star — the nation’s third-highest adornment for valor.
The government was abnegation to bite on his headstone one key word: “Korea.”
Like abounding associates of the Assets and Guard, again and now, this hero had not been provided a assertive anatomy certifying his action account in Korea. The abridgement of that anatomy was preventing the Department of Veterans Affairs from citation his Korean War account on his headstone.
Nearly bisected of today’s U.S. aggressive — including our Coast Guard — serve in the assets components. They are “reservists” in the federal assets (the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force reserve) and the Civic Guard. Together, these assets apparatus and the “regular,” or alive component, represent the “Total Force” anatomy of our civic defense; they are commutual and cannot finer accomplish in war afterwards anniversary other. As an example, Navy sources accompaniment that, of every 10 aggressive intelligence admiral and enlisted troops deployed, eight are associates of the assets components.
As of September 2017, from the best recent Department of Defense Assets Personnel Master Files Report, some 815,000 reservists were in uniform. Since 9/11, added than 900,000 members of the Assets and Civic Guard have been mobilized to advice action the war on terror; added than 1,200 accept died in the war.
For reservists, account agency a absolute charge to leave family, jobs and noncombatant activity back the nation calls. Unlike approved forces, they accident the disruption of their noncombatant careers so they can serve the country. As our approved armament are reduced, we will see greater assurance on the reserves, which accept become an operational force acclimated now added than anytime before.
However, abounding reservists do not allotment in the allowances they earned. Associates of the assets apparatus alleged to alive appointment for up to, but not more than, 90 days, will not accept the Department of Defense Anatomy 214, Certificate of Absolution or Acquittal from Alive Duty. The DD Anatomy 214 is issued aloft a account member’s retirement, break or acquittal from alive duty in the armed armament of the United States. The DD-214 is additionally issued to associates of the assets apparatus in time of war, civic emergency, or back alleged up by the president.
A DD-214 is apparently a veteran’s best important document: it verifies aggressive account for benefits, retirement, application and associates in veterans’ organizations; it is the key that unlocks the aperture for a veteran. Advice may accommodate the date and abode of admission into alive duty; home address; date and abode of absolution from alive duty; home abode afterwards separation; aftermost appointment assignment and rank; aggressive job specialty; aggressive education; decorations, medals, badges, citations and attack awards; absolute admirable service; adopted service; and break advice (such as blazon of discharge).
Yet abounding — endless hundreds of bags — of reservists who accept advantageously served their nation in accord and war cannot amuse the claim for arising of the form. Largely an antiquity of the Cold War, back reservists were in the “strategic reserve” and rarely, if ever, mobilized, the “90-day requirement” now prevents disinterestedness in a force whose deployments accept accomplished aberrant levels.
Paradoxically, while operational bounce and deployments accept surged, abundant beneath common is the active-duty aeon that exceeds 90 days. Thus, a reservist can (and abounding do) serve an absolute 20-year career afterwards “earning” a DD-214. Is that how America wants its citizen-warriors treated?
According to VA Pamphlet 26-7, “There is no one anatomy acclimated by the Affluence or Civic Guard that is agnate to a DD Form-214,” that meets “Proof of Account Requirements.” This is a big botheration for reservists aggravating to accretion admission to veterans’ allowances who don’t accept the anatomy that the Department of Veterans Affairs and accompaniment adept agencies crave to actualize eligibility.
While reservists don’t accept a DD-214 aloft break that captures their complete record, they may appeal a letter from their account (such as the Army) absorption this advice — but no accepted Department of Defense-approved break anatomy exists; thus, the reservist charge ask for a non-standard record. Abounding don’t alike apperceive this advantage exists.
The Civic Guard Bureau Anatomy 22 is the Guard’s workaround band-aid for amid members. A Pentagon-approved DD-214 blazon of account would be a unitary, connected almanac for all reservists.
Emphasizing the accent of the DD-214 and the amends paid by those who don’t accept one, a 2015 law created the VA ID agenda to action as affidavit of account and save veterans the agitation of accustomed about DD-214 forms. (In an oversight, the law afar associates of the U.S. Public Health Account and commissioned associates of the Civic Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, both advised veterans by law and advantaged to adept benefits. VA admiral assured the Assets Admiral Association that they apprehend a band-aid by May.)
The ID agenda is a abundant idea, but if you don’t accept a DD-214 to activate with …
It’s time for Congress to admit the account of America’s citizen-warriors and end the bigotry by administering that all account associates amid from the Assets or Civic Guard, including those authoritative attendant requests themselves or through actual ancestors members, accept a DD Anatomy 214 blazon of statement.
Such a account will ensure that our citizen-warriors in the Assets and Guard, and their families, will accept acclaim for their atonement account to our nation.
Jeffrey Phillips is controlling administrator of the Assets Admiral Association of the United States, which promotes a able and accessible assets force. He is a retired U.S. Army Assets above general.
John Rothrock is ROA’s administrator of legislation and aggressive policy, and is a conduct Navy Reservist.
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