karen yarbrough cook county recorder of deedsVenerable Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg wrote a recent column about the Cook County Recorder of Deeds’ Veterans Service Office, and the work we are doing to safeguard DD-214 military discharge records.

In describing the quest to receive military benefits as “the last battle,” Steinberg continues:

Meet form DD-214, informally known as “discharge papers.” A document that tells the world and, most important, the Veterans Administration, that you served your country well and were discharged. With so much depending on that — medical care, pensions, loans, educational benefits, even a military funeral — you would think vets would keep them in bank vaults, and some do. But others lose them or put them in boxes that are destroyed in floods.

Because these documents are not automatically recorded upon discharge, and retrieving a new copy can take weeks of waiting for the National Archives in St. Louis to process the request, time that could delay benefits, Recorder Yarbrough is actively promoting this free service.

Thus over the summer, Karen Yarbrough, Cook County recorder of deeds, started to reach out to vets, suggesting they bring in their DD-214s to be copied and permanently stored in her office, so the vet always knows where it is. Moreso, the recorder’s office has created a cheery intake center in the Cook County Building, 118 N. Clark St., decorated with patriotic posters, for them to come to.

The goal of our Veterans Service Office is to give vets and their families a comfortable place to sit down while a staff member handles the inter-departmental coordination that can be necessary to facilitate the recording of a DD-214, or the retrieval of a previously-recorded discharge record.

Before Yarbrough took office, a veteran might have to talk to multiple staff members and visit different departments within CCRD, hiking up and down stairs. Now they can relax with a cup of coffee, without having to wait in line or explain their needs multiple times to multiple people.

This is like a welcome home,” said Yarbrough, who took office in December. “You see their faces light up.”

To read the full column, visit the Sun-Times by clicking here.

If you have questions about our Veterans Service Office or DD-214 recording, please call (312) 603-5788 or click here.

CCRD Veteran Services