As Veterans’ Requests for Records Mount, Congress Asks DOD to Help Clear Backlog

May 24, 2021Hannah Ray Lambert
St Louis National Personnel Records Center

The National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is asking the Defense Department to help address a massive backlog of veterans’ records requests.

More than 2 million cubic feet of military personnel and medical records are stored at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in Missouri. Veterans need the records — which only exist in paper form and cannot be accessed remotely — to support their applications for federal benefits such as home loans, medical treatment, unemployment, and more.

The backlog has been growing since March 2020, when the NPRC limited in-person operations due to the coronavirus pandemic, fulfilling only emergency requests such as for burials and life-threatening medical treatments. More than a year later, the center increased on-site staffing to 25% of the workforce but is still operating well below its pre-pandemic capacity, according to the NPRC.

About 500,000 requests are delayed and about 400,000 records need to be refiled, said William Bosanko, chief operating officer at NARA. Officials there have estimated it could take up to two years to eliminate the backlog.

Bosanko sent a letter to the Pentagon earlier this month, requesting the DOD’s help transporting up to 400,000 military personnel folders to an off-site location (to support social distancing) where DOD personnel would sort and group folders in sequential order so that NPRC staff could refile them. DOD staff then would return the batched files to the NPRC and help with refiling and digitization. DOD personnel also would help NARA find, photocopy, and mail separation documents to those who have requested them, according to Bosanko’s letter.

“We are prepared to begin immediately,” he wrote in the letter. Bosanko said he expects the project to take fewer than six months.

Members of Congress have been urging the federal record stewards to better address the backlog for months. Last Thursday, members of the House Oversight and Reform and Veterans’ Affairs committees called on the Pentagon to respond to the request promptly.

“Veterans and their families depend on timely access to personnel records in order to receive life-saving medical care, emergency housing assistance, proper military burials, and other vital benefits earned through service to our country,” their letter reads. “We urge DOD to support the NPRC’s work and to ensure that we uphold our solemn pledge to care for our nation’s veterans.”

Read Next: ‘Long Overdue’ – Biden Presents Medal of Honor to Legendary Ranger Col. Ralph Puckett

Hannah Ray Lambert
Hannah Ray Lambert

Hannah Ray Lambert is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die who previously covered everything from murder trials to high school trap shooting teams. She spent several months getting tear gassed during the 2020-2021 civil unrest in Portland, Oregon. When she’s not working, Hannah enjoys hiking, reading, and talking about authors and books on her podcast Between Lewis and Lovecraft.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
navy seal training
Navy SEALS Training Plagued by Massive Problems, According To Investigation

Medical oversight and care were “poorly organized, poorly integrated and poorly led and put candidat...

memorial day arlington
Memorial Day Is a Day of Remembrance, Not Celebration

Memorial Day was created as a remembrance to honor the fallen by decorating graves — a holiday meant...

air force joint chiefs
Air Force Fighter Pilot Tapped As Next Joint Chiefs Chairman Has History of Firsts

The Air Force fighter pilot about to be nominated as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ...

sowf special operations warrior foundation
BRCC Donates $500K to Special Operations Warrior Foundation

In an effort to continue Black Rifle Coffee Company’s mission of supporting the veteran community, B...

Coca Cola 600
BRCC to Honor Fallen Marine During NASCAR’s Legendary Coca-Cola 600

Black Rifle Coffee Company will honor Marine Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Menusa during NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 this Memorial Day. Menusa was killed in 2003 during the invasion of Iraq.

uss gerald r. ford oslo
US Aircraft Carrier Arrives In NATO Member Norway, To Take Part In Drills

The nuclear-powered ship USS Gerald R. Ford entered the Oslo fjord escorted by a rapid dinghy-type boat with armed personnel on board.

adam driver indy 500
Marine Vet, Actor Adam Driver Named Honorary Starter for Indianapolis 500

Two-time Academy Award nominee Adam Driver, who will soon be starring as Enzo Ferrari in a biopic of...

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved