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Replacing Your Records
Who Should I contact to get another copy of my military records?
Veterans or next of kin to a deceased veteran can order a copy of military records using the National Archives Records and Administration (NARA) website, http://vetrecs.archives.gov, or by faxing a request to NARA, (314) 801-9195. You can also mail a letter to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) at the address below. Everyone else must make a request using a Request Pertaining to Military Records (SF-180).
You may download the SF-180 from the MOAA Web Base, www.moaa.org/benefitsinfo/medals.asp, or call MOAA’s Members Service Center, (800) 234-6622, to have the form mailed to you.
All requests must be in writing and signed and mailed to the NPRC–no emails will be accepted. Most records are on file and available by request at the NPRC, including military personnel, health, and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans of all services during the 20 th Century. The NPRC also stores medical treatment records of retiree from all services, documents for dependent and other persons treated at naval facilities, and the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD Form 214). Mail requests to the following address:
National Personnel Records Center
Who is allowed to access
Access to a veteran’s military records is limited to the veteran’s next of kin, or the veteran’s representative. Eligible next of kin include an un-married spouse or child, parent, or sibling of a deceased veteran.
Veterans and next of kin of deceased veterans have full access to the records. Third parties, such as lawyers, doctors, or historians, may submit requests for information from individual records as long as they have the veteran’s (or next of kin’s) signed and dated authorization. All authorizations should specify exactly what the third party is allowed to obtain and are valid for one year from the date of signature.
Military service medals, decorations, and awards can be replaced by sending a request to the specific branch of the military in which you served. However, the Air Force (including the Army Air Corps) and Army personnel, the NPRC must first verify that you received the awards and then forward your request to the appropriate service department for issuance of the medals.
The SF-180 is recommended for requesting medals and awards. The form provides instructions for filling it out and also includes the correct address for each service.
You can also send a letter of request. It should include your full name, date and place of birth, service number or Social Security number, branch of service, approximate dates of service, and your return address. If the request pertains to a record that might have been involved in the NPRC fire in 1973, also include your last unit of assignment and the place youentered the service.
Along with a completed SF-180, you must provide documentation that shows you were awarded the medals. This requirement can be satisfied by providing a copy of the award orders, military personnel records, or your DD Form 214. The request should include your Social Security number and the reason for the request and it must be signed.
Generally, one medal or award replacement is allowed free of charge. The length of time to receive a response or your medals and awards varies depending upon the branch of service sending the medals. Because of the large amount of inquiries, you should allow six months for your branch of service to research and respond to your request.
Article by Capt. Bud Schneeweis, USCG-Ret., Director; Lt. Col. William A. Pierce, USA-Ret, CMDR; Katherine O’Neil Tracy, USNR, and former Army Capt. Phil Dyer, CFP, Benefits Information.
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