Phased Expansion of Onsite Workforce at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) is Underway
What is NPRC’s operating status?
Community spread of Covid-19 in the St. Louis area has declined and local public health metrics now meet NARA’s standards for expanding the on-site workforce at NPRC. On March 8, 2021, NPRC increased its on-site staffing to 20 percent of the workforce. This will enable the Center to respond more quickly to emergency requests and service a larger number of requests than it has over the past several months. However, because it is still operating far below its pre-pandemic capacity, many other requests will continue to be delayed.
How do I submit an emergency request?
Our first priority remains responding to emergency requests, such as those involving burial honors for deceased veterans; life-threatening medical emergencies; requests from homeless shelters seeking to gain admittance of a homeless veteran; and comparable emergencies. If you have such an emergency, you must complete Standard Form 180, Requests Pertaining to Military Records, and fax a signed copy to (314) 801-0764.
Please provide a valid email address with your request and please take time to ensure your request is legible. We may need to respond to your request electronically.
Is NPRC responding to any other requests?
Yes, NPRC staff working remotely have begun servicing requests in which digital records are available. Digital records are normally available in instances where veterans separated from the military after 2002. If the records you requested are available electronically, NPRC may respond to your request via email. It is therefore important that your request include a valid, legible email address. NPRC staff working remotely cannot print and mail paper documents. They can respond only in instances where digital records are available and the requester provides a valid, legible email address to which it can reply.
Is NPRC responding to requests from the VA?
Yes, since the start of the pandemic, NPRC has responded to over 180,000 requests from the Department of Veteran Affairs for the temporary loan of original records needed to adjudicate claims. Most requests from the VA are serviced promptly, normally in three days or less.
Do I need my DD Form 214 to submit a claim to the VA?
In many instances, no. The VA will assist veterans in navigating the Federal bureaucracy to acquire records needed to adjudicate disability claims. The VA is a routine user of NPRC holdings and in most instances can obtain records faster than veterans who contact NPRC directly. Do not delay the filing of your disability claim while waiting for NPRC to respond to your request for records. File the claim with the VA and authorize the VA to obtain any needed records on your behalf.
Why is NPRC unable to service other requests?
NPRC employs many veterans and takes its responsibility to make these important records available very seriously. The biggest obstacle to returning NPRC’s performance to its pre-pandemic level lies in the reality that the majority of NPRC’s holdings and reference activity involve paper records that can be accessed only by on-site staff. While modern military service records are maintained electronically, most requests submitted to NPRC involve veterans who separated from the military many years ago, and whose records are available only in paper or microfilm formats, which require on-site access.
The most significant obstacles to increasing on-site staffing levels lie in community spread of the virus and the challenge of social distancing. We have modified our work processes to incorporate social distancing requirements. However, even with greatly reduced levels of on-site staffing, we have had to abruptly stop our work on numerous occasions for deep cleaning due to exposures of staff.
Our long-term plans include digitizing responsive records from our holdings to facilitate the remote servicing of requests. It is therefore imperative that requesters include a valid, legible email address with the submission of each request. This will enable NPRC to respond to your request electronically as records are digitized.
For how long will NPRC be operating at this reduced level of capacity?
The NPRC will be operating at various degrees of reduced on-site capacity until the public health emergency has ended. If the public health data holds or improves, we expect to be able to further increase onsite staffing in April.
The NPRC facility is located in an area which has had one of the highest per capita rates of confirmed COVID-19 cases in St. Louis County. It employs nearly 1,000 federal employees and contractors from multiple agencies, working in densely populated office space. Cubicles are in close proximity to each other; work processes require frequent, close interactions with coworkers; and the servicing of most requests requires access to over 60 million paper records that are stored on-site and unable to be accessed remotely.
Yes, modern service records, generally for veterans who separated after Calendar Year 2002, are available in electronic format. NPRC has deployed new digital delivery functionality to enable some of these requests to be serviced by its staff from remote locations. To be eligible for this service it is imperative that requesters submit a request using our online application, eVetRecs, and provide an email address with their request. If you provide an email address and your request involves records available in electronic format, our staff will obtain the records and provide you with credentials that will enable you to download the requested records from a secure server. This service is available only when (1) the responsive records are available in digital format, and (2) requesters provide an email address with their request.
In many instances, records that are available in electronic formats may also be accessed directly by veterans, without involvement from NPRC, through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) eBenefits application at https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/homepage or the Department of Defense milConnect application at https://milconnect.dmdc.osd.mil/milconnect/. Modern military medical records may be accessed through the VA’s Blue Button application at https://www.va.gov/health-care/get-medical-records/. For more information regarding the online availability of VA and military records, please visit https://www.va.gov/records/.
We regret we are unable to provide a more optimistic forecast for the resumption of normal service levels. We hope the above on-line resources are helpful and greatly appreciate your patience during these unprecedented times.
More information about the National Archives' response to coronavirus can be found at archives.gov/coronavirus .