In researching my dad’s time in WWII, I decided to obtain his military service record from the National Archives. While I would have liked to have visited the Archives in person, at the time I did not want to travel to St. Louis to do so. I chose to request his records online and started here:
Other than a personal visit to the archives, records may be requested online, by mail, or by fax. Available records are the DD 214 (separation documents), personnel records, replacement medals, and/or medical records. The online process of requesting records is accomplished using the eVetRecs process and is not completely digital. Once you request records through eVetRecs, you must either mail or fax your written signature. The process is fairly simple, and you can begin by clicking “Submit your request ONLINE with eVetRecs.” If you wish to proceed through mail or fax, click “Submit your request by MAIL or FAX using the SF-180 Form.”
Only a veteran or next-of-kin of a deceased veteran may order personnel records online through eVetRecs. Depending on the information requested, fees can vary.
While most requests from the NPRC (National Personnel Records Center) are for only a copy of the separation document, about ten percent request a copy of the entire file, as I did. Since the 1970’s the center’s standard procedure for requests for entire files has been to provide only copies of key documents and vital information. However, for files more than sixty-two years old – as are the files of WWII veterans – all documents are provided if requested.
Some of the information contained in a personnel file could include separation documents, military service 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, enlistment contract, entry and separation physical exams, immunizations, dental examinations, and clinical summaries.
I already had a copy of my dad’s separation documents. My interest in obtaining his entire file was mainly to see medical records and his physical condition after his liberation as a prisoner of war. I had read that the prisoners that were liberated on the march were not weighed or their deteriorated conditions recorded in their medical records. I had some unanswered questions and hoped to find some of those answers in his service record.
I started, like many others, with an online request through eVetRecs for my dad’s entire service file.
To be continued: my personal experience receiving my dad’s service record from the NPRC.
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2016