(2010) Many wartime veterans, or their widows, can qualify for benefits from the Veterans Administration to help pay for care at home or in an assisted living facility.

A vital component of any successful application is a certified copy of the veteran’s discharge papers. A mere photocopy will not suffice.

Information from the discharge papers is needed to complete an application for benefits, and a certified copy must accompany the application itself. Do not submit the originals because you may never see them again.

Applicants often still have their original discharge forms, such as the DD-214 or WD AGO Form 53-55. To obtain a certified copy, present the original at the Veterans Administration Regional Office and ask that a certified copy be made. For Western Pennsylvania, the local office is located in the William S. Moorhead Federal Building in downtown Pittsburgh at 1000 Liberty Avenue.

If the original can’t be found, the county courthouse where the veteran returned after the war may have a copy. Failing that, you may apply to the National Personnel Records Center. The NPRC maintains an Internet-based system, for making requests. (Log onto www.archives.gov/veterans/evetrecs/) You can also write to the NPRC in St. Louis, Missouri, or submit a Standard Form 180.

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