How to Request Veterans Records

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The following article will explain how to request veterans records from the National Personnel Records Center.

National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) is one of the National Archives and Records Administration’s largest operations. They are a central repository of personnel-related records, both military and civil service. They  provide service to Government agencies, military veterans, former civilian Federal employees, family members, as well as researchers and historians.

Copies of most military and medical records on file at NPRC (MPR), including the DD Form 214, Report of Separation (or equivalent), can be made available upon request.  Veterans and next-of-kin of deceased veterans have the same rights to full access to the record.  Next-of-kin are the unremarried widow or widower, son or daughter, father or mother, brother or sister of the deceased veteran.

Authorized third party requesters, e.g., lawyers, doctors, historians, etc., may submit requests for information from individual records with the veteran’s (or next of kin’s) signed and dated authorization.  All authorizations should specify exactly what the veteran (or next-of-kin) is allowing to be released to a third party.

How to Prepare Requests for Information from Official Military Personnel Files

Federal law requires that all requests for records and information be submitted in writing.  Each request must be signed (in cursive) and dated (within the last year).  FOR THIS REASON, NO REQUESTS WILL BE ACCEPTED OVER THE INTERNET.

Requests must contain enough information to identify the record among the more than 70 million on file at NPRC (MPR).  Certain basic information is needed to locate military service records.  This information includes the veteran’s complete name used while in service, service number or social security number, branch of service, and dates of service.  Date and place of birth may also be helpful, especially if the service number is not known.  If the request pertains to a record that may have been involved in the 1973 fire, also include place of discharge, last unit of assignment, and place of entry into the service, if known.

How to Obtain Standard Form 180 (SF-180), Request Pertaining to Military Records
Standard Form 180

  1. You need access to a printer and the Adobe Acrobat Reader software (most browsers already have it). The form is a total of 3 pages.
  2. The SF-180 is formatted for letter size paper (8.5″ x 11″).  If your printer can not accommodate this, select “shrink to fit” when the Adobe Acrobat Reader “Print” dialog box appears.
  3. This is also a fill-able version of the SF-180. It will allow you to type the needed information into the form using your keyboard.  You will still need to print, sign and mail the form. Otherwise, it works the same as stated above.

How to Write a Letter to Request Veterans Records

If you are not able to obtain SF-180, you may still submit a written request for military records. Requests must contain enough information to identify the record among the more than 70 million on file at NPRC (MPR). Certain basic information is needed to locate military service records. This information includes:

  • The veteran’s complete name used while in service
  • Service number or social security number
  • Branch of service
  • Dates of service
  • Date and place of birth may also be helpful, especially if the service number is not known
  • If the request pertains to a record that may have been involved in the 1973 fire, also include:
    • Place of discharge
    • Last unit of assignment
    • Place of entry into the service, if known.

Please submit a separate request (either SF 180 or letter) for each individual whose records are being requested.



MLA Source Citation:

US Military Records. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 26 September 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/military/how-to-request-veterans-records.htm - Last updated on Apr 16th, 2013


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