National Personnel Records Center Continues Serving Veterans During COVID-19 Pandemic
By Sarah Garner | National Archives News
SAINT LOUIS, April 7, 2020 ― Although the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) here is officially closed, a small contingent of staff continues to come into the building to process critical record requests in support of veterans and their families during this COVID-19 pandemic.
NPRC is part of the National Archives and Records Administration. Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero wrote about NPRC’s role in his blog post National Archives Operations During COVID-19: Mission Critical Functions Continue.
Ferriero explained that NPRC’s holdings include medical records and patient clinical records from military hospitals across the world. These collections are often referenced to support emergency medical treatments for veterans. The Center also provides prompt access to military service records needed to help homeless veterans obtain shelter and to support funeral honors and burials in national cemeteries for deceased veterans.
“The national pandemic emergency has temporarily disrupted many of the services we provide, including routine access to military records,” Ferriero said. “However, the critical requests described above continue to be promptly serviced.”
NPRC Director Scott Levins praised his team members for their dedication to the mission during a national emergency.
“I’m proud of the entire staff here. We have some employees working from home for the first time ever and others who are continuing to come in on a rotational basis to respond to the most urgent requests we receive,” Levins said. “This is an unprecedented and scary time, but it’s nice to know that as an organization, we’re doing what we can to make access happen for those who need it most.”
Processing record requests isn’t the only way NPRC is supporting the veteran community.
Because some work at NPRC involves handling mold-contaminated records recovered from a fire in 1973, it maintains a small supply of N95 face masks for staff use—now in high demand by healthcare workers responding to COVID-19 across the world.
To get these into the hands of those who most need them, NPRC, the National Archives at St. Louis, and the Preservation Lab worked with NARA’s Facility and Property Management Division and the Greater St. Louis Federal Executive Board to arrange for the transfer of 200 masks to the Department of Veterans Affairs St. Louis Healthcare System.
"The staff that received them were extremely appreciative. They were covered in protective gear from head to toe, so much so that I could hardly hear them speak, but they pointed out that the surgical masks they were wearing were inferior to the ones we were donating," Levins said. “It’s nice to know that our contribution, though small in the grand scheme of things, will undoubtedly be put to good use.”
Read about how other NARA locations are donating supplies in support of the efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic on National Archives News.
If you have an urgent need for access to military service records, please fax your request to 314-801-0764. This is a dedicated line for emergencies only. If your request is not urgent, please consider delaying it until we are past this national emergency.