Ways You Can Validate Someone’s Military Service Claims
Serving in any branch of the military is a responsibility that is earned through fortitude, perseverance, and a dedication to personal excellence that goes above and beyond the typical standards by which we weigh ourselves in the civilian sector. The personal sacrifices made by the people who can live up to those standards represent a significant investment in their nation, and thus they are afforded certain honors befitting of these valorous acts. When someone claims to be an active member of the military or a veteran, you need to know that it is the truth or if its a case of stolen valor. Whether you’re interviewing them for a position in your company, or are getting to know someone you’ve just met on a personal level, it’s important for you to be able to verify their service, considering the gravity of the claim. You could always conduct a background check on them but sometimes it’s not possible.
Unfortunately, it’s not always the easiest thing to do. Military service records do not become public information until 62 years have passed after a person has been discharged. Unless you’re part of their immediate family, you cannot request those documents. So how do you verify the claim?
- Leave and Earning Statements
Every branch of the armed services is required to furnish enlisted personnel with these military payment records. They detail their payments, tax withholdings, and leave time which they’ve accumulated throughout their tenure. If you are trying to verify military service in a professional capacity, this is an excellent means to do so as they are well-informed about the need to keep these records secure for exactly these purposes.
- Online Verification
There are several websites you can use to verify claims of military service. The Defense Financing and Accounting Service has an online database you can search using social security numbers and other personal information, as well as a phone number you can call to get in contact with someone who can help you process the information. Their system will send back results either indicating that person is actively in the military, or that there are no records of the individual.
- DFAS Phone Number: 1-888-DFAS411, Monday through Friday between 8 a. m. and 5 p. m. EST
Another reliable online resource you can use is the ID.me website. This is a personal identification system that makes it easy for people to manage their various credentials for online applications in a secure manner. It is widely used by military veterans in applying for programs and benefits and should be a reliable way for you to validate their service.
- Personal Validation
While the aforementioned methods are great for employers, non-profits, and others wishing to offer services to military personnel, they won’t be as useful if you’re simply trying to verify a claim made by someone you’ve just met. Whether as a friend or in a romantic capacity, you need to be able to trust the people in your life. For these purposes, you can request that a person claiming a history of military service shows you their Common Access Card. These are standard-issue military photo identification cards which will outline their pertinent information. Be aware that civilian contractors and other people who perform various services for the military are also issued these cards, so be certain to examine the information on it closely.
- Beware of Scams
The “stolen valor” issue is one which has recently come to a head and you need to be cautious of a few common claims. In 1973 a fire destroyed the vast majority of records from people serving in the Army before the 1960s. Air Force records were also destroyed going all the way back to 1943. You will often find scammers claiming that their records were destroyed in those incidents. Likewise, you may hear people claim that they were enlisted as part of an “Eyes Only” classification in which no records were ever generated for national security purposes. While there can be truth in these statements, you should be able to procure basic enlistment information if you follow the tips outlined in this article.
- Due Diligence and Common Sense
Remember to ask to see a claimant’s Common Access Card, and read it carefully to ensure they’re military personnel. Request copies of their Leaves and Earnings Statements. Make use of the DFAS and ID.me for secure, in-depth identification. With a little legwork and communication, you can get the satisfaction you need in verifying a person’s military record.