Joe Davidson’s office used to record about 15 military discharges per month.
Though the number of veterans being discharged hasn’t changed much, the county’s recorder of deeds only sees about three each month now.
The Centre County Board of Commissioners has proclaimed November as “Record Your Discharge Month” to get the word out about the free service.
The deeds office allows military veterans to document their discharge papers with the county to have a permanent copy on record in case anything happens to the original.
“It’s secure. It’s safe. And you can always obtain a copy of it for the purposes of obtaining benefits,” Davidson said.
When a veteran comes in seeking benefits, Veteran’s Affairs Director Brian Querry asks to see the papers before he can get anything started.
Without the discharge documents, there is nothing he can do, Querry said.
“I call this the golden ticket,” he said. “This is the key.”
He added that backups can be filed in multiple counties. He was once able to obtain the papers for a family from another county.
One of Davidson’s oldest discharges are records from a man who served in the military in 1863 and filed the discharge in 1939.
The files can only be accessed by select people or groups, including immediate family members and government entities.
Commissioners’ Chairman Steve Dershem said that it’s important to promote these types of services to let veterans know what kind of options they have when they return from service.