Veterans' Service Records

Special Notice Regarding Service Record Requests

The National Personnel Records Center responds to over 1.4 million requests annually for copies of military personnel and/or medical records. Our goal is to provide timely responses in an efficient manner, so that veterans and their families obtain the information needed to qualify for benefits and entitlements.

Nearly half of all requesters seek only a copy of the separation document, which is the necessary document required for veteran benefits. However, about ten percent of the requests that we receive ask for a copy of a file.

Since the 1970s, our standard procedure for replying to requests for entire files has been to provide only copies of key documents and extracts of vital information, rather than a copy of every document in a personnel and/or medical file. This approach avoids costly delays in reviewing and copying some documents — such as leave papers, identification card applications, and clothing issuances — that are not normally needed for benefit claim purposes. As a result, we are able to respond to more requesters, faster, and at less cost to the taxpayers. Exceptions to this procedure are files more than 62 years old, US Marine Corps files, all certified legal cases, and all requests from the Department of Veterans Affairs. In these instances, all documents are provided.

This extract contains copies of all essential documents to certify entitlement to most rights and benefits associated with military service, to identify key events in a military career, and to identify significant events in health care. Personal data pertaining to third parties is redacted from the file, pursuant to Privacy Act provisions.

When only key documents and extracts are provided from the Official Military Personnel File and the Medical Record, the response package contains a copy of all separation documents and all of the following information if it is in the file:

  • Military Services Dates
  • Character of Service
  • Promotions and Reductions
  • Duty Stations and Assignments
  • Foreign or Sea Service
  • Military Schooling and Training
  • Awards and Letters of Commendation
  • Disciplinary Actions
  • Lost Time
  • Enlistments Contracts
  • Entry and Separation Physical Exams
  • Immunizations
  • Dental Examinations
  • Clinical Summaries/Cover Sheets

If, after receiving an extract of a file, a requester submits a follow-up request for additional information or documents, NPRC will automatically send copies of all the other documents in the file.

Until recently, we did not explain this policy when responding to requesters. As of September 28, 2009, all responses that contain file extracts include an explanation of the policy.

If you have questions about this policy, please direct them to:

Jay Trainer
Executive for Agency Services