JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When a service member leaves the military, they are supposed to get a form called a DD-214. It shows service history and other personal information. Veterans say this form is necessary to access things like retirement and healthcare benefits.
But Shawn McFall told News4JAX he’s not getting his form in a timely manner. McFall has served in the Navy for 21 years, finishing out his career at Naval Station Mayport.
“I specialized in mine warfare, mine countermeasures and things of that sort,” McFall said.
He says he retired on July 31 and turned in his paperwork in on time, but more than a month later, he still hasn’t received a form showing his discharge.
“It’s just, it’s frustrating,” McFall said.
He says without the DD-214 form, his job, housing and healthcare have all been compromised. Saying without proof of separation from the military, he couldn’t start another government he job he had lined up. And, without proof of income, he defaulted on a loan for a house. He says what he’s really worried about though is healthcare.
“My daughter was in speech therapy -- we had to pull her out of speech therapy because TRICARE lapsed,” McFall said.
He says if the form doesn’t come in within 90 days of his retirement, he wont be able to get his medication.
“If this takes longer than 90 days, which I’m being told it could, based off the people I’ve talked to, I’m without medication that is required for me you know live a sustainable life,” McFall said. “That’s why this is such a rush. And that’s why this does mean so much to me.”
He and his family have moved back in with his in-laws in Jacksonville. His father-in-law, Jim Darling, said when he retired from the Navy in 2007, he received his DD-214 before his last day.
“It’s new, as far as hearing what he is going through with it,” Darling said. “And hearing about the other retirees in today’s day, it’s disheartening that we spent 20 years plus, for our military, you know, going where they want us to go, being there on time, missing a lot of family and time away from our kids. And, and to hear about this, you know, it’s it’s, we should be doing better, as a military.”
A Navy spokesperson with Naval Personnel Command in Millington, Tennessee said in a statement, “Reducing the number of DD-214s in processing is MyNavy Career Center’s top priority.” MyNavy Career Center is where DD-214 processing happens.
The spokesperson said the Navy’s Personnel Support Detachments have begun consolidating into just six centers in recent years, with each serving a core function. The one that’s processing DD-214s is located in Norfolk, Virginia. He said MyNavyCareer Center receives several hundred separation and retirement packages daily.
He also said “Currently, more than 70% of transactions are submitted less than 60 days prior to a sailor’s official separation or retirement date. When a package is submitted inside of the 60 days, it takes effort away from the transactions that are submitted on time.”
McFall doesn’t see the Navy’s response as evidence of a priority. He wants to see action.
“I’m angry about it. I spent 21 years in the military, just to basically be told that,” McFall said. “You know you always hear the horror stories, about like, you’re forgotten once you get out. You never want to believe it, but it kind of feels like that.”
A spokesperson from Senator Marco Rubio’s office says the senator is assisting several veterans on this issue. The senator said service members and veterans deserve timely access to essential records they need as they transition into civilian life and seek the benefits they have earned.