How to obtain awards from the National Archives

As a veteran, your military service represents a significant chapter of your life, filled with dedication, sacrifice, and achievements. The medals and awards you earned during your service hold great value, symbolizing your commitment to your country. If you're seeking to obtain your military medals from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), this guide will walk you through the process step by step.

Step 1: Gather Your Information

Before you begin the process of requesting your military medals, gather all relevant information about your military service. This includes:

  • Your full name (including any variations used during service)
  • Service branch (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard)
  • Dates of service
  • Service number or Social Security Number
  • Specific details about the medals you believe you're entitled to

Step 2: Determine Your Eligibility

Check whether you are eligible for the medals you're seeking. Some medals are automatically awarded based on specific criteria, while others might require specific achievements or actions during your service. Make sure to verify your eligibility for each medal you plan to request.

Step 3: Use the VA Medals Review Tool

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides a convenient online Medals Review Tool that can help you identify and request the medals you're entitled to. Follow these steps:

  1. Visit the VA Medals Review Tool page on the VA website.
  2. Enter your personal and service-related information as prompted.
  3. The tool will generate a list of medals you might be eligible for based on your information.

Step 4: Request Your Medals

Once you've identified the medals you want to request, follow the appropriate steps:

  1. Through the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC):

    • Complete the Standard Form (SF) 180, "Request Pertaining to Military Records."
    • You can submit the form online or mail a physical copy to the NPRC.
    • Visit the NPRC website for detailed instructions and to access the SF-180 form.
  2. Through Your Branch of Service:

    • Check your specific service branch's official website or contact their designated office for replacement medals.
    • Follow the procedures outlined by your service branch to request the medals.

Step 5: Be Patient and Follow Up

Obtaining military medals may take time, especially if records need to be retrieved or verified. Be patient during the process. If you don't receive a response within a reasonable timeframe, consider following up with the relevant office to check on the status of your request.

Step 6: Visit a VA Regional Office (Optional)

If you prefer a more personal approach, you can visit a local VA Regional Office to request your medals in person. Make sure to bring relevant identification and service-related documentation.


Requesting your military medals from the Department of Veterans Affairs is a meaningful endeavor that allows you to honor your service and the sacrifices you made. By following these steps and utilizing the VA's resources, you can successfully obtain the medals that symbolize your dedication to your country. Remember that the process may vary based on your specific situation and the medals you're requesting, so be sure to consult official government sources for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

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