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Bill (and fellow list members):

I don't know exactly why this thread has struck such a cord with me; but I promise that this will be my final post on this subject. 

I hope everyone in the US had a great Thanksgiving and that all list servers had a wonderful weekend and is now ready for a challenging week at work.


Sincerely,

Curtis Welch
Sr. Records Management Analyst
Pinellas Co. BCC Admin. Services
[log in to unmask]

509 East Avenue
Clearwater, FL 33756
(727) 464-3315 (Voice)
(727) 464-4951(Fax)

>>> [log in to unmask] 11/22/00 03:55PM >>>
And...DOD Form 214 is considered to be a confidential record by the military and is not to be released unless approved in writing by either the veteran or the next-of-kin. >>>>>>>

Thanks for the website reference, and it is clear that the military's copy of the 214 form (and the rest of the military service record including the discharge papers) is protected by the Privacy Act.

>>>>Filing the form with county officials is not required, but as I understand it, but, if filed it is to be retained as a confidential record.>>>>

This is where I don't necessarily agree. If the individual's copy of the DD-214 form is entered by the veteran into the state/local public record; then the state/local copy is confidential ONLY if it is made confidential by the corresponding state/local public records law(s). 

>>>>According to our local Veteran's Service Officer, she can be removed from office for making an unauthorized disclosure.>>>>

Here I totally disagree. Again, I am assuming that this is a copy of the veteran's form entered into the state/local record by the veteran who was discharged. By entering the document as a state/local public record the veteran has at the very least inferred authorized disclosure of the state/local record (UNLESS the state/local public records laws also have a confidentiality clause.) Even then, I don't think that you could actually have a public official removed from office over disclosure, unless you could prove malicious intent (good luck!)

However, as I have stated I am speaking as a records manager and not an attorney. If I am wrong, I will willingly submit myself to twelve public lashings with wet noodles (to be witnessed by Mr. Roach personally.) Maybe someone with the appropriate legal expertise could straighten me out on this one (Mr. Montana?)

Just some closing remarks and observations:

I am NOT advocating removing any or all of the Privacy Act clauses concerning US Armed Forces veterans' DD-214 forms, discharge papers, or military service records. I am simply pointing out that records managers need to distinguish and administer the appropriate laws and rules governing the records in their custody; and that federal laws and rules DO NOT unilaterally apply to all state and local public records. 

Also, if an individual chooses to make a personal document part of state and/or local public record; unless there is a specific confidentiality clause protecting that type of document from disclosure; then that document is subject to the laws and  rules of access and disclosure of public records for that state and/or local government body (federal rules and personal preference notwithstanding.) 

I further do not believe that access to public government records should be based on the personal preferences of any records manager (myself included) nor the stated purpose of a requestor UNLESS the laws and rules of the appropriate government body require and provide adequate guidelines for such "screening." Public records are exactly that; PUBLIC. 

I believe the DD-214 form IS maintained as a part of every veteran's military discharge records. The reason that we were directed on our discharge to "safeguard" our personal copy when I was discharged in 1978 was so that we would have it when we needed it. It was clearly pointed out that obtaining additional copies was a time consuming and laborious undertaking. (This is not a criticism; just a fact which has been born out by personal experience and close second hand knowledge on several occasions.) We were advised that if we wanted ready access to the benefits we had worked so hard for and/or needed ready proof of our service to receive them, then we'd better have our personal copy readily at hand. I do not remember any admonitions to "guard" access to the information contained on the form, other than personal preference. Quite the contrary, we were encouraged to maintain the form as a ready proof of our service and discase, not something to "hide under a basket."

Besides, if you go looking for my address listed on my DD-214, have a great trip to the mountains of Virginia (but also look at my signature block below.) And that's "Southwestern Virginia" to you Peter K!

Have a great weekend everyone.