Will a Military Conviction Show up on a Background Check? (Full Answer)

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | June 23, 2022

Former service members whose tenure ended under unfavorable conditions may wonder, “Will a military conviction show up on a background check?”

This is a complex issue with many factors to consider, and this article provides the full answer to this important question.

Since all types of background checks are increasing in use, everything from employment and tenant background checks to military visitor base background checks, knowing exactly what will appear on any given type of background screening can be crucial.

For military members who have a military conviction and are entering civilian life, the two key things to know are:

  • What type of check is being performed?
  • What was the severity of the military conviction?
  • How long ago did the conviction occur?

These three factors impact whether a military conviction will show up on a background check.

Continue reading to find out what shows up on a background check for the military and if and when military convictions show up on a background check.

Do Military Background Checks (Military Background Investigations) Show up for a Civilian Job?

Individuals asking “Will a military conviction show up on a background check?” may also be curious whether military background checks show up when applying for civilian jobs.

For enlisted service members, the military will conduct a fingerprint background check which will examine the most recent seven to ten years of an individual’s history. A civilian job post-military may use the same background check process, and it will also show the most recent seven to ten years’ history. If there is an overlap between the two-time frames, the information will appear on the civilian background check as well. However, a record of a military background check being performed is unlikely to show up on a future background check for a civilian job.

It is a bit different for higher-ranking military members, particularly those requiring security clearance. Individuals seeking security clearance must undergo a more stringent background check looking back at least ten years, with periodic re-investigations thereafter. There are three levels of security clearance:3

  • Confidential – reinvestigation every fifteen years
  • Secret – reinvestigation every ten years
  • Top Secret – reinvestigation every five years

While the investigations themselves will not show up on background checks for a civilian job, individuals who have held or currently hold security clearance have an advantage when applying for jobs and will appear more appealing, particularly for government jobs or other high-sensitivity positions.19

Types of Background Checks: Does a Military Conviction Go On Civilian Criminal Record?

Because background check types are varied, whether or not a military conviction will show up depends on the type of check being run.

Typically, a name-based background check (level 1 background check) won’t show disciplinary actions for minor offenses, however, according to federal law, the DD 214 Form falls under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Therefore, if consent is authorized for the background check, an employer has the right to request that form and see the information contained that is permissible. This means that medical history and discharge information will not be included.

However, for level 2 background check (fingerprints used to check national databases) and higher (level 3 background check and level 4 background check), military convictions will show up on these criminal history screenings.

In addition, a military conviction regarding a sex offense, that requires the offender to register on the sex offender registry will also show up on any background check.

How Far Back Does a Background Check Go?

When wondering will a military conviction show up on a background check, how long ago the conviction occurred will play a role. If the conviction was over 10 years ago, it will probably not show up.

However, if the conviction was less than seven years ago, it will be present if the conviction resulted from a court martial.

Can An Employer Ask About Military Service? (Are Court Martial Records Public)

Employers may ask an applicant about their military experience and skills related to the job applied for, but they are barred from asking an applicant directly about the reason for discharge. If an individual discloses military experience to an employer, the background check will seek to verify the dates of service, rank, duties, training, and work experience.

The military may direct the employer or background check company to the DD-214 discharge papers for relevant information.

The DD-214 form contains a record of any court-martial and the associated discharge status. This form is available to employers upon request. While employers are prohibited by Equal Employment Opportunity laws from discriminating against an applicant because of medical issues, disabilities, or individual preferences, they may take into account any criminal charges.

Because a conviction from a court-martial goes on an individual’s record like a civilian criminal conviction, it shows up on a federal or fingerprint background check.5 16

Does A Background Check Show Military History? (Will a Military Convictions Show Up on a Background Check?)

Former service members with military convictions are actively searching for suitable jobs all the time and agonizing over the question of will a military conviction show up on a background check.

There are various reasons why an individual may choose not to disclose their military history, and if there is no associated criminal conviction, the background check will not show military history. Military records for self or next-of-kin can be obtained through the U.S. Government26 website.

Screenshot of how to request military records for people who wonder will a military conviction show up on a background check?

A background check will verify the reported employment history. Therefore, if an individual reports military service on an application, the company conducting the background check will validate that information through the specified military branch or institution and will likely request a DD-214 form for verification of skills and experience.

If an individual chooses not to divulge military history, it is unlikely that a typical background check will show it. However, there are exceptions to this. If an individual is seeking a government or federal job or one requiring security clearance, a higher level background check will likely uncover military history.18

Furthermore, it should be assumed that any military conviction tried by court-martial will show up on an individual’s criminal record.10

Does a MEPS Background Check Show up for a Government Job? (MEPS FBI Background Check)

Government jobs often require varying levels of security clearance and as such require a security clearance background check. This type of background check looks back further and is more stringent than a typical military background check. It is likely to show the action and outcome of a previous MEPS background check. Read more about federal jobs and security clearances at USAJOBS.25

Secrutity clearance background check screenshot with yellow arrow pointing to question about military background investigations and types of information required.

Do You Lose VA Benefits if Convicted of a Crime?

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,27 veterans must receive an “other than dishonorable” discharge to be eligible for most veterans’ benefits. This means that a military conviction sentenced through a court-martial will render most individuals ineligible for benefits.  The VA may make specific determinations or exceptions on a case-by-case basis for bad conduct and dishonorable discharges.

 

What Disqualifies You From VA Benefits?

There are various reasons for which an individual may be disqualified from VA benefits. The following list details reasons concurrent with military service time.7

  • The veteran was dishonorably discharged
  • The veteran’s injury was caused by misconduct
  • The veteran injury occurred while the individual was detained for court-martial or civil court felony

Furthermore, a veteran may also lose access to benefits for incidents transpiring after military discharge.4

  • Benefit reduction for felony incarceration
  • Benefit discontinuation for a felony fugitive
Find Veterans Benefits InformationState Departments of Veterans’ Affairs
How Do I Find Alabama Veterans’ Benefits Information?Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs28
How Do I Find Alaska Veterans’ Benefits Information?Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs29
How Do I Find Arizona Veterans’ Benefits Information?Arizona Department of Veterans Services30
How Do I Find Arkansas Veterans’ Benefits Information?Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs31
How Do I Find California Veterans’ Benefits Information?California Department of Veterans Affairs32
How Do I Find Colorado Veterans’ Benefits Information?Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs33
How Do I Find Connecticut Veterans’ Benefits Information?Connecticut State Department of Veterans Affairs34
How Do I Find Delaware Veterans’ Benefits Information?Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs35
How Do I Find District of Columbia Veterans’ Benefits Information?Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs36
How Do I Find Florida Veterans’ Benefits Information?Florida Veterans Affairs37
How Do I Find Georgia Veterans’ Benefits Information?Georgia Department of Veterans Service38
How Do I Find Hawaii Veterans’ Benefits Information?Hawaii Office of Veterans Services39
How Do I Find Idaho Veterans’ Benefits Information?Idaho Division of Veterans Services40
How Do I Find Illinois Veterans’ Benefits Information?Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs41
How Do I Find Indiana Veterans’ Benefits Information?Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs42
How Do I Find Iowa Veterans’ Benefits Information?Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs43
How Do I Find Kansas Veterans’ Benefits Information?Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs Office44
How Do I Find Kentucky Veterans’ Benefits Information?Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs45
How Do I Find Louisiana Veterans’ Benefits Information?Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs46
How Do I Find Maine Veterans’ Benefits Information?Maine Bureau of Veterans Services47
How Do I Find Maryland Veterans’ Benefits Information?Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs46
How Do I Find Massachusetts Veterans’ Benefits Information?Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services48
How Do I Find Michigan Veterans’ Benefits Information?Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs49
How Do I Find Minnesota Veterans’ Benefits Information?Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs50
How Do I Find Mississippi Veterans’ Benefits Information?Mississippi Department of Veterans Affairs51
How Do I Find Missouri Veterans’ Benefits Information?Missouri Veterans Commission52
How Do I Find Montana Veterans’ Benefits Information?Montana Department of Military Affairs51
How Do I Find Nebraska Veterans’ Benefits Information?Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs53
How Do I Find Nevada Veterans’ Benefits Information?Nevada Department of Veterans Services54
How Do I Find New Hampshire Veterans’ Benefits Information?New Hampshire Department of Military Affairs and Veterans Services55
How Do I Find New Jersey Veterans’ Benefits Information?New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs56
How Do I Find New Mexico Veterans’ Benefits Information?New Mexico Department of Veterans Services
How Do I Find New York Veterans’ Benefits Information?New York State Division of Veterans Services57
How Do I Find North Carolina Veterans’ Benefits Information?North Carolina Department of Military & Veterans Affairs58
How Do I Find North Dakota Veterans’ Benefits Information?North Dakota Veterans Affairs59
How Do I Find Ohio Veterans’ Benefits Information?Ohio Department of Veterans Services60
How Do I Find Oklahoma Veterans’ Benefits Information?Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs61
How Do I Find Oregon Veterans’ Benefits Information?Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs62
How Do I Find Pennsylvania Veterans’ Benefits Information?Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs63
How Do I Find Rhode Island Veterans’ Benefits Information?Rhode Island Veterans Services64
How Do I Find South Carolina Veterans’ Benefits Information?South Carolina Department of Veterans Affairs65
How Do I Find South Dakota Veterans’ Benefits Information?South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs65
How Do I Find Tennessee Veterans’ Benefits Information?Tennessee Department of Veterans Services66
How Do I Find Texas Veterans’ Benefits Information?Texas Veterans Commission67
How Do I Find Utah Veterans’ Benefits Information?Utah Department of Veterans & Military Affairs68
How Do I Find Vermont Veterans’ Benefits Information?Vermont Office of Veterans Affairs69
How Do I Find Virginia Veterans’ Benefits Information?Virginia Department of Veterans Services70
How Do I Find Washington Veterans’ Benefits Information?Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs71
How Do I Find West Virginia Veterans’ Benefits Information?West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance72
How Do I Find Wisconsin Veterans’ Benefits Information?Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs73
How Do I Find Wyoming Veterans’ Benefits Information?Wyoming Veterans Commission74

How Thorough Are Military Background Checks? (What All Shows Up On A Military Background Check?)

The military’s recruitment and vetting process are extensive and involved. There are some common steps that are consistent across all branches of the military.

Individuals begin by completing questionnaires about themselves and any criminal background they may have. Recruits are processed through a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), where they undergo physical, moral, and aptitude evaluations.[23] This is also where a background check is initiated. Federal employees, military included, are required to undergo an FBI fingerprint background check to search for local, state, and federal-level crimes.12 15

A military background check will produce the following information:8

  • Identity and SSN verification
  • Personal information (marital status, residential status, etc)
  • Employment and work history
  • Financial history (bankruptcies, excessive debt, tax evasion)
  • Driving history
  • Prior military history
  • Social media information
  • Local, state, and federal criminal history

This background check will disclose an individual’s criminal history for at least the most recent seven years. If an individual is nervous about background check they can explore how to get a criminal background check on themselves before the military check is conducted.

An individual who is honest about criminal history at the outset may be granted the opportunity to file a waiver of admittance for a criminal record, depending on the severity of the crime.21 Some felony-level crimes, such as drug distribution or sexual assault are unlikely to be eligible for a waiver of admittance.20

Recruits must also complete the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), a timed test to measure an individual’s aptitude and fitness for various military occupations. An Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score is generated from four subtests:1

  • Mathematics knowledge
  • Arithmetic reasoning
  • Paragraph comprehension
  • Word knowledge

Each military branch has varying score requirements, as do various positions and ranks.

Recruits also undergo a medical evaluation through the MEPS to determine if their health is consistent with military standards. This exam looks at:

  • Weight and Height
  • Vision and Hearing
  • Urine and Blood Tests
  • Pregnancy Tests
  • Drug and Alcohol Tests

Individuals are fingerprinted for a criminal background check, and a Pre-Enlistment Interview (PEI) is conducted to ensure that an individual has the integrity and values consistent with military standards.

Some military positions require a security clearance, and the process to obtain a security clearance is more lengthy and involved. While a typical military background check may take up to a few weeks, security clearance background checks regularly take as long as two months.3 15

While there are some similarities across all branches of the military, there are also aspects that are unique to each. The sections and tables below detail the recruitment and background check process and expectations for each military branch.

United States Army Background Check

The first step to joining the U.S. Army is speaking with an Army recruiter to find out if the decision is the best fit. Recruiters guide individuals through the various steps of enlistment and training.

After completing the initial questionnaires, individuals report to a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) for the next steps. A recruit can expect to spend one to two days at the MEPS completing the entrance processing.17

At the MEPS, recruits complete:

  • The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
  • A medical evaluation
  • A physical examination
  • An FBI background check
  • The Pre-Enlistment Interview (PEI)

Browse the table below for specifics in each of these areas.

Army Background Check ItemDescription
Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) TestThe ASVAB measures an individual’s abilities in specific areas, such as mathematics, comprehension, science, and electronics, to gauge the testee’s aptitude for various military occupations and careers.1

An Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score is generated from four subtests:

  • Mathematics knowledge
  • Arithmetic reasoning
  • Paragraph comprehension
  • Word knowledge

A minimum AFQT of 31 is required for enlistment in the U.S. Army. Other areas of the ASVAB are explored for strengths that make a recruit a good candidate for various positions.22

Medical EvaluationAt the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), recruits undergo a medical evaluation to determine general health. The medical evaluation includes:9
  • Height and weight
  • Hearing and vision
  • Urine test
  • Blood test
  • Drug test
  • Alcohol test
  • Pregnancy test
Physical EvaluationThe physical evaluation requires recruits to do various exercises to measure physical ability and determine if a recruit’s health is up for the rigor of Basic Training and service.
FBI Background CheckRecruits are fingerprinted for an FBI background check.
Pre-Enlistment Interview (PEI)This interview is used to establish an individual’s integrity and trustworthiness.

United States Marine Corps Background Check

The first step to joining the United States Marine Corps is speaking with a Marine Recruiter to determine eligibility and suitability. Recruiters guide individuals through the various steps of enlistment and training.

After completing the initial questionnaires, individuals report to a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) for the next steps. A recruit can expect to spend one to two days at the MEPS completing the entrance processing.17

US marine corps background check, Army background check and other branches of the military all start with first visit to MEPS for processing.

At the MEPS, recruits complete:

  • The Initial Strength Test (IST)
  • The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
  • A medical evaluation
  • An FBI background check
  • The Pre-Enlistment Interview (PEI)
  • The Physical Fitness Test (PFT)
  • The Combat Fitness Test (CFT)

Browse the table below for specifics in each of these areas.

Marines Background Check ItemDescription
Initial Strength Test (IST)The IST is a test involving various exercises which demonstrate a recruit’s physical fitness. Exercises may include:14
  • Push-ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Planks
  • Crunches
  • A 1.5-mile timed run
Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) TestThe ASVAB measures an individual’s abilities in specific areas, such as mathematics, comprehension, science, and electronics, to gauge the testee’s aptitude for various military occupations and careers.1

An Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score is generated from four subtests:

  • Mathematics knowledge
  • Arithmetic reasoning
  • Paragraph comprehension
  • Word knowledge

A minimum AFQT of 31 is required for enlistment in the United States Marine Corps. Other areas of the ASVAB are explored for strengths which make a recruit a good candidate for various positions.22

Medical EvaluationAt the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), recruits undergo a medical evaluation to determine general health. The medical evaluation includes:
  • Height and weight
  • Hearing and vision
  • Urine test
  • Blood test
  • Drug test
  • Alcohol test
  • Pregnancy test
FBI Background CheckRecruits are fingerprinted for a criminal background check.
Pre-Enlistment Interview (PEI)This interview is used to establish an individual’s integrity and trustworthiness.
Physical Fitness Test (PFT)The PFT evaluates physical conditioning and includes:
  • Push-ups or pull-ups
  • Planks or crunches
  • Three-mile timed run
Combat Fitness Test (CFT)The CFT evaluates functional fitness, testing recruits in combat uniforms. It includes three parts:
  • The movement to Contact (880-yard sprint)
  • Ammunition Lift (30-pound ammunition can overhead lift)
  • Maneuver Under Fire (300-yard obstacle course)

United States Navy Background Check

The first step to joining the United States Navy is contacting a naval recruiter to determine eligibility and suitability. Recruiters guide individuals through the various steps of enlistment and training.

After completing the initial questionnaires, individuals report to a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) for the next steps. A recruit can expect to spend one to two days at the MEPS completing the entrance processing.17

At the MEPS, recruits complete:

  • The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
  • A medical evaluation
  • The Navy Physical Readiness Test (PRT)
  • An FBI background check
  • The Pre-Enlistment Interview (PEI)

Browse the table below for specifics in each of these areas.

Navy Background Check ItemDescription
Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) TestThe ASVAB measures an individual’s abilities in specific areas, such as mathematics, comprehension, science, and electronics, to gauge the testee’s aptitude for various military occupations and careers.1

An Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score is generated from four subtests:

  • Mathematics knowledge
  • Arithmetic reasoning
  • Paragraph comprehension
  • Word knowledge

A minimum AFQT of 35 is required for enlistment in the U.S. Navy. Reserve enlistees may have a minimum score of 31.   Other areas of the ASVAB are explored for strengths that make a recruit a good candidate for various positions.22

Medical EvaluationAt the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), recruits undergo a medical evaluation to determine general health. The medical evaluation includes:
  • Height and weight
  • Hearing and vision
  • Urine test
  • Blood test
  • Drug test
  • Alcohol test
  • Pregnancy test
Navy Physical Readiness Test (PRT)The PRT is a physical fitness test that includes:
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Running

An overall score of 60 points is required for enlistment.

FBI Background CheckRecruits are fingerprinted for an FBI background check.
Pre-Enlistment Interview (PEI)This interview is used to establish an individual’s integrity and trustworthiness.

U.S. Air Force Background Check

The first step to joining the U.S. Air Force is contacting an Air Force recruiter to determine eligibility and suitability. Recruiters guide individuals through the various steps of enlistment and training.

After completing the initial questionnaires, individuals report to a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) for the next steps. A recruit can expect to spend one to two days at the MEPS completing the entrance processing.17

At the MEPS, recruits complete:

  • The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
  • A medical evaluation
  • A physical evaluation
  • An FBI background check
  • The Pre-Enlistment Interview (PEI)

Browse the table below for specifics in each of these areas.

Air Force Background Check ItemDescription
Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) TestThe ASVAB measures an individual’s abilities in specific areas, such as mathematics, comprehension, science, and electronics, to gauge the testee’s aptitude for various military occupations and careers.1

An Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score is generated from four subtests:

  • Mathematics knowledge
  • Arithmetic reasoning
  • Paragraph comprehension
  • Word knowledge

A minimum AFQT of 36 is required for enlistment in the U.S. Air Force. Other areas of the ASVAB are explored for strengths that make a recruit a good candidate for various positions.22

Medical EvaluationAt the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), recruits undergo a medical evaluation to determine general health. The medical evaluation includes:
  • Height and weight
  • Hearing and vision
  • Urine test
  • Blood test
  • Drug test
  • Alcohol test
  • Pregnancy test
Physical EvaluationThe physical evaluation requires recruits to do various exercises to measure physical ability and determine if a recruit’s health is up for the rigor of Basic Military Training and service.
FBI Background CheckRecruits are fingerprinted for an FBI background check.
Pre-Enlistment Interview (PEI)This interview is used to establish an individual’s integrity and trustworthiness.

United States Coast Guard Background Check

The first step to joining the United States Coast Guard is contacting a Coast Guard recruiter to determine eligibility and suitability. Recruiters guide individuals through the various steps of enlistment and training.

After completing the initial questionnaires, individuals report to a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) for the next steps. A recruit can expect to spend one to two days at the MEPS completing the entrance processing.17

At the MEPS, recruits complete:

  • The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
  • A military entrance medical exam
  • A physical evaluation
  • An FBI background check
  • The Pre-Enlistment Interview (PEI)
  • The Whole Person Evaluation

Browse the table below for specifics in each of these areas.

Coast Guard Background Check ItemDescription
Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) TestThe ASVAB measures an individual’s abilities in specific areas, such as mathematics, comprehension, science, and electronics, to gauge the testee’s aptitude for various military occupations and careers.1

An Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score is generated from four subtests:

  • Mathematics knowledge
  • Arithmetic reasoning
  • Paragraph comprehension
  • Word knowledge

A minimum AFQT of 40 is required for enlistment in the U.S. Coast Guard. Other areas of the ASVAB are explored for strengths that make a recruit a good candidate for various positions.22

Military Entrance Medical ExamAt the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), recruits undergo a medical evaluation to determine general health. The medical evaluation includes:
  • Height and weight
  • Hearing and vision
  • Urine test
  • Blood test
  • Drug test
  • Alcohol test
  • Pregnancy test
Physical EvaluationThe physical evaluation requires recruits to do various exercises to measure physical ability and determine if a recruit’s health is up for the rigor of training and service.
FBI Background CheckRecruits are fingerprinted for an FBI background check.
Pre-Enlistment Interview (PEI)This interview is used to establish an individual’s integrity and trustworthiness.
Whole Person EvaluationThis evaluation combines information gathered from all other areas and considers an individual’s overall demeanor, values, and work ethic.

Space Force Background Check

The first step to joining the U.S. Space Force is speaking with an Air Force recruiter to determine eligibility and suitability. Recruiters guide individuals through the various steps of enlistment and training.

After completing the initial questionnaires, individuals report to a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) for the next steps. A recruit can expect to spend one to two days at the MEPS completing the entrance processing.17

At the MEPS, recruits complete:

  • The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
  • A medical evaluation
  • A physical evaluation
  • An FBI background check
  • The Pre-Enlistment Interview (PEI)

Browse the table below for specifics in each of these areas.

Space Force Background Check ItemDescription
Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) TestThe ASVAB measures an individual’s abilities in specific areas, such as mathematics, comprehension, science, and electronics, to gauge the testee’s aptitude for various military occupations and careers.1

An Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) score is generated from four subtests:

  • Mathematics knowledge
  • Arithmetic reasoning
  • Paragraph comprehension
  • Word knowledge

An AFQT score is generated and other areas of the ASVAB are explored for individual strengths which make a recruit a good candidate for various positions.22

Medical EvaluationAt the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), recruits undergo a medical evaluation to determine general health. The medical evaluation includes:
  • Height and weight
  • Hearing and vision
  • Urine test
  • Blood test
  • Drug test
  • Alcohol test
  • Pregnancy test
Physical EvaluationThe physical evaluation requires recruits to do various exercises to measure physical ability and determine if a recruit’s health is up for the rigor of Basic Military Training and service.
FBI Background CheckRecruits are fingerprinted for an FBI background check.
Pre-Enlistment Interview (PEI)This interview is used to establish an individual’s integrity and trustworthiness.

How Far Back Does The Military Do A Background Check?

The military’s background check is a federal-level fingerprint check which will look back at least seven years for enlisted members and at least ten years for officers or security clearance positions.11

However, depending on the branch of service involved, the background check may examine further than 10 years.

Whether or not a military conviction will show up on a civilian background check depends on the type of check being run, how long ago the conviction was, and whether it was the result of a court martial. The bottom line is that if the court martial conviction occurred less than 10 years ago, it will likely show up.

The military is a complex system with many regulations and procedures, and sometimes individuals find themselves on the wrong side of this system due to some form of misconduct. Former military members anxious about finding a job following a military conviction can know the answer to “Will a military conviction show up on a background check?” by determining the level of the crime and the type of the check being performed.

Frequently Asked Questions About Will A Military Conviction Show Up On A Background Check?

Do You Have To Tell Employers You Were In The Military?

There is no law requiring an individual to disclose military experience or history when applying for jobs. However, depending on the situation, withholding that information can work either for or against an applicant.

For example, if an individual was only in the service for a short period of time and was not discharged honorably, disclosing military association is not likely to benefit their application.

However, an individual who served for a long period of time and has the skills and experience to wield would likely benefit from disclosing military service, regardless of discharge status. An individual who chooses to disclose military experience will need to consent to the release of the DD-214 form to the employer.13

Additionally, withholding information about extended military service will likely leave a noticeable gap in employment history that is going to raise a flag. Furthermore, any military convictions will show up on a criminal record, anyway, so honesty at the outset will look more honorable.16

The short answer is “NO,” individuals are not required to disclose military affiliation, but they should weigh the costs against the benefits carefully before deciding.

Does A Background Check Show Military Discharge?

Most background checks will not show military discharge, though related convictions will pop up. Government employers or applications for security clearance will be able to access discharge information.18 24

Does A DD214 Show Up On A Background Check?

A DD-214 Form is provided to service members upon discharge. It provides details from the dates of service and service experience to the conditions of discharge. Though the DD-214 is not available for public records, these discharge papers are part of military records.

Whether the DD-214 shows up on a background check depends on whether or not an individual reports military service. An individual who reports military service must consent to release of the DD-214 for background check purposes. If an individual does not disclose military service, it is unlikely that the DD-214 would show up on a regular background check.

Furthermore, the background check company should omit medical information and discharge information from the report to the employer.5

An individual applying for veteran preference must provide the full DD-214 to the employer for review. Veterans applying for higher-level government jobs can also expect a a complete DD-214 to show up on a background check.13

Does AWOL Show Up On A Background Check?

If an individual is tried and sentenced for AWOL in a court-martial, it is likely that the conviction will show up on a criminal background check.

Does Military Service Show Up On A Background Check?

An individual wondering “Will a military conviction show up on a background check?” may also be interested to know whether general military service will show up on a background check. The short answer is “Yes if an individual reports military service.” When an individual responds affirmatively that they were in the military, the background check company will obtain the DD-214 from the military branch to confirm service dates and experience.

If an individual does not report military service, most background checks will not show it. Civil service positions and higher-level government jobs are potential exceptions.6

Not Disclosing Military Service?

Former military members are not required by law to disclose their service. However, this can work to an individual’s disadvantage if the absence of military service leaves a noticeable gap in work and experience history.

Military Discharge Background Check?

A military discharge is not included in most background checks. Even when individuals report military service, the background check company will not report discharge information from the DD-214 to the employer.

However, if an individual was convicted through a court-martial, the associated conviction will appear on criminal records.

How Long Does An Other Than Honorable Discharge Stay On Your Record?

An Other Than Honorable Discharge remains on an individual’s military record permanently unless the individual successfully applies for an upgrade.24

Does Entry Level Separation Show Up Background Check?

If an individual reports military service, the employer will obtain the DD-214 as part of the background check and subsequently see the ELS designation. Otherwise, ELS should not show up on a typical background check.2

Can a Military Court Martial Be Erased (Expunged) from the Record?

No. A military court martial conviction cannot be removed from the record.


References

1ASVAB. (2022). Understanding Your ASVAB Results. Career Exploration Program. Retrieved June 1, 2022, from <https://www.asvabprogram.com/media-center-article/103#:~:text=The%20ASVAB%2C%20Armed%20Services%20Vocational,future%20academic%20and%20occupational%20success>

2Avvo. (2013). Can an Entry Level Separation Be Classified as Dishonorable? Avvo. Retrieved June 2, 2022, from <https://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/can-an-entry-level-separation-be-classified-as-dis-1083744.html#:~:text=Yes%2C%20an%20employer%20can%20find,up%20on%20a%20background%20check>

3Bartell, B. (2022, June 2). How Long Does a Military Background Check Take? The Soldiers Project. Retrieved June 3, 2022, from <https://www.thesoldiersproject.org/how-long-does-a-military-background-check-take/>

4Chisholm Chisholm & Kilpatrick LTD. (2022). When and If VA Can Stop a Veteran’s Benefits. Veterans Law. Retrieved June 3, 2022, from <https://cck-law.com/blog/when-and-if-va-can-stop-a-veterans-benefits/>

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63Veterans Affairs. (2022). Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Retrieved June 07, 2022, from <https://www.dmva.pa.gov/veteransaffairs/Pages/default.aspx#>

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