Within the last year the Navy has consolidated their Human Resources (Navy Personnel) services to Millington, TN. Previously there were offices (PSD’s: Personnel Support Detachments) that provided service to our Sailors regionally. They were able to handle reenlistments, pay issues, separations, and other needs at local level. I guess this worked far too well so the Navy decided to “save money”.
Since the centralization of those services occurred there has been a dramatic increase in the time for routine personnel transactions. I won’t attempt to talk about the numerous issues like travel claims delayed by months, pay issues that cause financial hardships for our military families, and delayed reenlistments. I’ll just stick to the DD214 issue.
A DD214 is the document that serves as official proof that someone served this great nation and is the key to a myriad of service-connected benefits. The GI Bill, VA disability claims, and applying for federal jobs are just a few of these. Basically, if you don’t have proof (DD214) you served then you didn’t.
Additionally, for members retiring from the military, not having this proof will delay receipt of their pension. That’s right. The military you served, the one that knows you were in uniform for more than 20 years just yesterday will hold your pay until THEY get their paperwork done. For many retirees this is their only source of income until they can find new employment. In some cases, our Veterans suffer from a host of medical conditions that will keep them unemployed for months or even forever. This needs to be fixed now.
Although not as frequent as the aforementioned situations, if a service member is being involuntarily separated because of High Year Tenure, not having a DD214 will delay and potentially negate their Involuntary Separation Pay, which allows a separating military member to get back on their financial feet upon exiting the service.
I personally know of a Senior Chief (E-8 for all those non-Navy folks reading) with 26 years of service whose EAOS came and went with no DD214. That means no pension and no disability benefits. I also met an E-5 with 15 years of service who separated due to High Year Tenure in August and hasn’t received their DD214 nor their Involuntary Separation Pay. This Sailor cannot attend college/vocational training, cannot submit a VA claim until the Navy issues them a document that is required to be issued prior to separation.
Most active-duty personnel will not speak publicly of course because they will be held accountable for speaking out against their chain-of-command. I am retired so I can speak out for them.
Someone else is also speaking out. I served with HMCM Andrew (Drew) Ali at Naval Hospital Pensacola. Drew now helps our veterans with their benefits and the following is his take on the DD214 situation:
“Currently in the Navy, any service member who is separating or retiring from Active Duty is being told to verify and submit their DD-214 to PSD/TSC via Navy Standard Integrated Personnel System (NSIPS) at least 60 days prior to the start of terminal leave if retiring and or 60 days prior to EAOS if separating.
If this is a written policy, I was unable to find any data to support this “requirement” after researching the Fleet Reserve timeline on the MyNavy HR website, https://www.mynavyhr.navy.mil/Career-Management/Retirement/Fleet-Reserve-Timeline/
or the military personnel manual MILPERSMAN 1830-040.
or Bureau of Personnel Instruction BUPERS 1900.8. https://www.mynavyhr.navy.mil/Portals/55/Reference/Instructions/BUPERS/BUPERSINST%201900.8%20CH-1%20%20CH-2.pdf.
This issue is also compounded by an apparent backlog with processing these DD-214s in a timely manner before the service member departs on terminal leave.
In fact, it specifically states in Encl 3, of BUPERSINST 1900.8, “that if a member requested copies of his DD-214, it is to be given in conjunction with their separation or discharge and prior to final departure from their command on permissive temporary additional duty, terminal leave and associated travel.”
I know for a fact this has not been happening, as I too have experienced this personally when I retired earlier this year from the Navy. Unfortunately, it still continues today with numerous Sailors that are still awaiting their signed DD-214 months after leaving the service.
Failure to obtain your DD-214 in a timely manner will delay Sailors from obtaining their VA disability benefits, delay starting college, and in some cases even delay getting a job.
Another interesting fact is that when I canvassed other senior enlisted leaders from the Army and the Air Force, it appears the Navy is the only branch of service with a backlog, it’s the only branch that is not in compliance with its own policies, and it’s the only branch not ensuring their personnel are set up for success when they transition.”
I think Drew had some great points on the requirements and where the Navy is falling short. I’m sure this was an unintended consequence of trying to make the system more efficient but that means nothing to a family with no money and no proof they served.