U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-IL, visited the Cook County Building on Aug. 16, touring the Cook County Recorder of Deeds’ Veterans Service office and filing her DD-214 military discharge papers with the Recorder.
Duckworth also met with county officials including Recorder Karen Yarbrough, Cook County Director of Veterans Affairs Bill Browne, Brian Cross of the Recorder’s Veterans Service Office and Al Zaragoza, Superintendent of the Veterans Assistance Commission of Cook County.
Rep. Duckworth’s visit provided an opportunity for County officials to encourage military veterans of all ages to file their discharge papers with the Recorder of Deeds’ office as a “safety net,” according to Browne.
“The military DD-214 is the one document that will identify when and where a veteran served in the military,” said Browne, who was tasked by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle last year with creating the County’s new Veterans Affairs department.
“Today, many of the younger veterans are filing their papers as soon as they get discharged because they realize the importance of the proof of your service obligations. Military discharge papers are valuable to veterans because they may be required to prove eligibility for certain benefits and programs.”
As an example, Browne pointed out that having quick access to a DD-214 is essential in a case where a veteran passes away and his or her family is seeking burial benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Older veterans in particular often do not tell their family members the location of their discharge papers, and the service being offered through Recorder of Deeds Yarbough’s office can provide a vital back-up in these instances. If the original is ever lost, destroyed or damaged, the veteran or his family can always get a certified copy from the Recorder of Deeds if the DD-214 was properly filed with the office.
“We are thankful for Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s service to our state and nation, and her visit to record her DD-214 will help raise awareness about the importance of safeguarding this document,” said Karen A. Yarbrough, Cook County Recorder of Deeds. “Our Veterans Service Office was created so that veterans and their families don’t have to stand in line or visit multiple departments when they come to our office, and instead can be served in a private, welcoming space. We look forward to helping more veterans as word spreads about this important service.”
The process to record a DD-214 is simple and free. Once recorded, the DD-214 will be available to the veteran, his or her dependents or to a person with specific written authorization, but is not a document that can be accessed by the general public.