Magazine article Security Management

Know the Code for Service: Just as Companies Verify a Job Candidate's Employment History and Education, They Should Verify Military Service Claims

Magazine article Security Management

Know the Code for Service: Just as Companies Verify a Job Candidate's Employment History and Education, They Should Verify Military Service Claims

Article excerpt

When a former member of the U.S. military applies for employment, the prospective employer should consider the applicant's military service. And just as school transcripts are requested as proof of education, employers should seek proof of military service. Documentation is available to testify to an individual's enlistment in the service, but those in charge of hiring must understand what information the various official forms contain and what the designations mean to before they can properly interpret the facts.

Form DD (Department of Defense)-214--the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty--is the standard proof of military service. Generally referred to as discharge papers, DD-214s are issued to every serviceperson who has separated from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard. Human resource managers can use the DD-214 to locate relevant information about a former service member's participation in the military, for purposes of corroborating a former servicemember's account of his or her record. But first they must obtain a copy of the DD-214 that provides this information and then wade through the military jargon and codes, translating them into a language that civilian human resource professionals can understand.

Form and function. The DD-214 is composed of eight different copies, including two (1 and 4) for the serviceperson. However, "all copies are not created equal, which can be confusing and potentially misleading to the unaware human resources professional. For example, Copy 4, unlike Copy 1, lists the serviceperson's Character of Discharge--Honorable, General, Dishonorable, and so forth--along with hundreds of codes that further describe the serviceperson's enlistment and reasons for separation from military service.

Three different types of codes can further delineate service history: the Separation Program Designator (SPD) code, the Separation Program Number (SPN) code, and the Re-Entry (RE) code, in addition to the Narrative Reason of Separation (NROS); all of these codes help describe the serviceperson's period of enlistment. (More on these later.)

Human resource professionals may not realize that this information is available, particularly if the serviceperson provides Copy 1 of the DD-214, which is likely because discharged servicemembers only receive the more complete Copy 4 if they request it. Those honorably discharged have an incentive to ask for Copy 4, because it gives the only record of their performance. But some servicemembers might deliberately reject that option to avoid disclosing unfavorable information, such as a dishonorable discharge and the reason for it. Even for those honorably discharged, Copy 4 may contain other negative information.

When not requested, Copy 4 is forwarded to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, where veterans' service records are stored. There it may remain, an important but unused informational tool.

The serviceperson or another party can retrieve Copy 4 from the records center after completing Form 180--a form requesting that a veteran's military records he sent. But processing and delivery might take six months or more.

The codes. As mentioned earlier, there are three types of codes on Copy 4 of the DD-214: the Separation Program Designator (SPD) code, the Separation Program Number (SPN) code, and the Re-Entry (RE) code.

SPDs explain why the serviceperson left the military Reasons may include expiration of term of service, a dependency or hardship, having a character or behavior disorder, drug use, going AWOL (Absent Without Leave), desertion, alcoholism, shirking of duties, or others. The SPD codes are based on alphabetical combinations.

Similar in information provided by SPD codes, but using numbers instead of letters, are the SPN codes. These include 202, which represents the expiration of term of enlistment; 242, resignation of enlisted personnel for the good of the service; 247, unsuitability for multiple reasons; 28B, unfitness due to frequent involvement in incidents of a discreditable nature with civil or military authorities; and 283, misconduct/AWOL cases where a trial was waived or deemed inadvisable. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.