In the U.S. armed forces, separation means that a person is leaving active duty, but not necessarily leaving the service entirely. Separation typically occurs when someone reaches the date of their Expiration of Term of Service (ETS) and are released from active duty, but still must complete their military reserve obligations. Upon separation, they receive form DD214, which verifies their military service.
It is important to keep a copy of the DD-214 form. In order to receive Veterans Administration (VA) benefits a DD214 must be shown. A veteran or next of kin may request a copy of the DD214 form by going to National Personal Records Center's website.