Replacing Lost Military Service Records
Last updated 1/13/2021 at 8:53pm | View PDF
Are you in need of a copy of your official Military Service Records, which you now realize have been lost or misplaced?
Many service members are unaware of the importance of the information and documents provided to us upon separation from service. As many members eventually find out, there comes a time when we need some of that information.
When it comes to your military records, the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) is the official keeper. After you are separated from service, your last command is responsible for forwarding your military file to NPRC to become part of the official archives. You can request your records by visiting http://www.archives.gov, or you can order them through the mail by completing an SF-180 form and mailing it back to NPRC. However, the website method is faster.
In 1973, NPRC suffered a fire and many records were burned. The official word on the fire is: “Due to a fire, Army personnel who served from 1912–1959 and Air Force personnel who served from 1947–1963 with last names after ‘Hubbard, James D’ need to contact a particular number to reach the special section that attempts to retrieve the damaged records.”
Even though the records were damaged, not all were a total loss. If you are in this category, you can request NPRC to send you a form to complete, which will help them in searching for your records.
Records that are NOT held at NPRC include the following:
• Department of Veterans Affairs Records (Release of Information to VA is required for these records.)
• Pay Records (If available at all, they are maintained at the finance centers for each branch of service.)
• Records of veterans who are separated from active service but are in reserve status, either active or inactive
• Records of current members of the National Guard (You will need to contact the Adjutant General’s office of the state where you reside.)
• Records of National Guard members recently discharged (It takes about six months after discharge for NPRC to receive the records.)
• Selective Service Records
Depending on when the veteran separated from service, NPRC may not have the active duty health records. (In general, active duty health records are maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs. There are some exceptions.)
Ken Cruickshank, the Veterans Services Officer for Tulare County, is a retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer. Contact him at the Veterans Services Office at 3348 W. Mineral King Ave., Visalia; by phone at (559) 713-2880; or by email at KCruicks@tularehhsa.org.