Obtaining a Copy of Your Military Records

The National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR), in St. Louis, MO, is the repository of millions of military personnel, health, and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans of all services during the 20th century. NPRC (MPR) also stores medical treatment records of retirees from all services, as well as records for dependent and other persons treated at naval medical facilities. Copies of most military and medical records on file at NPRC (MPR), including the DD Form 214, Report of Separation (or equivalent), can be made available upon request.

Veterans and next-of-kin of deceased veterans have the same rights to full access to the record. Next-of-kin are the unremarried widow or widower, son or daughter, father or mother, brother or sister of the deceased veteran. Authorized third party requesters, e.g., lawyers, doctors, historians, etc., may submit requests for information from individual records with the veteran's (or next of kin's, for deceased veterans) signed and dated authorization. If you use a signed authorization, it should include exactly what you are authorizing to be released to the third party. Authorizations are valid one year from date of signature.

The general public can also request some parts of a veteran's military record without the authorization of the veteran or next of kin. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act provide balance between the right of the public to obtain information from military service records, and the right of the former military service member to protect his/her privacy. In general, information available from military service records which can be released without violation of the Privacy Act are: Name, Service Number (not Social Security Number), Rank, Dates of Service, Awards and Decorations, and Place of Entrance and Separation. If the veteran is deceased, the Place of Birth, Date of Death, Geographical Location of Death, and Place of Burial can also be released.

Access to military personnel and medical records on file at the National Personnel Records Center, may also be gained pursuant "to the order of a court of competent jurisdiction." Subpoenas qualify as orders of a court of competent jurisdiction only if they have been signed by a judge. To be valid, court orders must also be signed by a judge. Authority for these requirements is 5 U.S.C. 552a(b) (11), as interpreted by Doe vs. DiGenova, 779 F. 2d 74 (D.C. Cir. 1985), and Stiles vs. Atlanta Gas and Light Company, 453 F. Supp. 798 (N.D. Ga.1978).

The records stored at the National Personnel Records Center cover military personnel who were discharged on or after the below- listed dates:

Air Force Officers and Enlisted -- September 25, 1947

Army Officers separated July 1, 1917

Army Enlisted separated November 1, 1912

Navy Officers separated January 1, 1903

Navy Enlisted separated January 1, 1886

Marine Corps Officers and Enlisted separated January 1, 1905

Coast Guard Officers and Enlisted separated January 1, 1898

Military personnel records for individuals separated before these dates are on file at the National Archives and Records Administration, Old Military and Civil Records Branch (NWCTB), Washington, DC 20408. E-mail address: inquire@arch2.nara.gov.

Federal law [5 USC 552a(b)] requires that all requests for records and information be submitted in writing. The easiest way to do this is by using Standard Form (SF) 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records.

Requesting Copies of Military Records (Including DD Form 214/215): Requests must contain enough information to identify the record among the more than 70 million on file at the National Personnel Records Center. The Center needs certain basic information in order to locate military service records. This information includes the veteran's complete name used while in service, service number or social security number, branch of service, and dates of service. Date and place of birth may also be helpful, especially if the service number is not known. If the request pertains to a record that may have been involved in the 1973 fire, also include place of discharge, last unit of assignment, and place of entry into the service, if known.

The SF 180, although not mandatory, is the recommended method to send a request for military service information. This form captures all the necessary information to locate a record. Provide as much information on the form as possible and send copies of any service documents that you may have. Requests may also be submitted as a letter, containing the basic information listed above. Mail the completed SF 180, or the signed written request to: The National Personnel Records Center (Military Personnel Records) 9700 Page Avenue St. Louis, MO 63132-5100 Requesting Copies of Military Medical Records:
Clinical and medical treatment records are filed at the National Personnel Records Center by the name of the facility which last had responsibility for the records. Therefore, in order to request information from medical records, you must provide the following: NAME OF THE LAST FACILITY WHICH HAD RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE TREATMENT RECORD. Usually this is the last facility at which treatment was provided. The YEAR and the TYPE OF TREATMENT (inpatient, outpatient, dental, mental health, etc.) If you need copies of specific records, please be sure to state the type of illness, injury, or treatment involved. The patient's FULL NAME used during treatment The patient's SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER and STATUS during treatment [military, retiree, dependent of military, federal employee, dependent, or other (specify)]. BRANCH OF SERVICE and SPONSOR'S SERVICE NUMBER or SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER (if the former patient is/was a dependent). You should provide as much information as possible. It may not be possible to locate a record if important identifying information is missing.

For medical records of separated/retired military personnel and NAVY/Marine Corps dependents, send your request to: National Personnel Records Center Military Personnel Records 9700 Page Avenue St. Louis, MO 63132-5100. For medical records of Air Force, Coast Guard, or Army Dependents, send requests to: National Personnel Records Center Civilian Personnel Records 111 Winnebago Street St. Louis, MO 63118-4126.

Veterans who plan to file a claim for medical benefits with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) do not need to request a copy of their military health record from the National Personnel Records Center. When you file a VA claim, the Department of Veterans Affairs will request the record automatically, as part of the claims process. Generally there is no charge for military personnel and health record information provided to veterans, next-of-kin, and authorized representatives. If your request involves a service fee, you will be notified as soon as that determination is made. Response time varies dependent upon the complexity of your request, the availability of records, and the workload of the National Personnel Records Center. Over the past several years, the Center has experienced severe personnel and budget cuts. While the center strives to complete most record requests within 90 days, it is not unusual for the Center to be backlogged for 180 days, or more. Please do not send a follow-up request before 90 days have elapsed as it may cause further delays.

Above Information Courtesy of the National Personnel Records Center.

Home Page