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How to order military records

This quick guide explains how to order military records for people who served in the United States military. Should be helpful for family historians, family searches, genealogists, historians, and military veterans.

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How to order military records

  1. 1. How to order US military service records by Luke Sprague
  2. 2. “Even as a veteran, I was having a difficult time understanding how to order military records.” So, I created this really simple guide to help everyone order military service records from the United States government. Join the discussion at #getmilitaryrecords 2 Luke Sprague @HistoryMint Historian at HistoryMint
  3. 3. “WHATare a certificate of service, DD214, military service record, AGO Form 55, 201 file, or discharge papers?” These document ONE PERSON’s term of service. 3 Join the discussion at #getmilitaryrecords
  4. 4. “WHYare military service records valuable to family historians and historical researchers?” BECAUSE, they are a valuablesource of information: job, age, medals, awards, marital status, rank, pay, dates of service, ship names, and unit names…to list a few. 4 Join the discussion at #getmilitaryrecords
  5. 5. “Yes, then turn to the next page.” “Was the person’s military service priorto 1917?” “Okay, I am ready to order records, how do I do it?” “No, then SKIP the next page.” 5 Join the discussion at #getmilitaryrecords
  6. 6. Ordering Pre-1917military service records: ▪Use this for ordering service records from the Civil War, the Mexican-War, or Revolutionary War. ▪These are called a Completed Military Service File (NATF-86), delivered in either paper or digital format, costs $30, and ships in 60 to 90 days. 1.Go to the http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/pre-ww-1- records.html#nwctb-listand look above for the “Military Service Records” subheading with the shopping cart titled “Order Online.” 2.Click on the “Order Online” site and create a login. You may have to log back in. 3.Complete the veteran’s identification and service description as completely as you are able. You will see a number of examples once you login. 4.Pay and submit the order >>SKIPahead to page 12, unless you want to see a post-1917 example 6 Join the discussion at #getmilitaryrecords
  7. 7. “Their service was 1917 or later.” “Okay, did the person who served in the military leave the service in 1952 or earlier?” [62 years priorto today] Example 1: “Yes, he served during World War 2 and was discharged in 1945.” TURN TO THE NEXT PAGE. Example 2: “No, she served during Vietnam and got out in 1969.” SKIP THE NEXT PAGE. 7 Join the discussion at #getmilitaryrecords
  8. 8. Example 1: “Yes, he served during World War 2 and was discharged in 1945.” ▪IF 62 years or greater since discharge from the military, THEN these papers are called an archivalOfficial Military Personnel File (OMPF) andthey are open to the public. ▪You may receive a copy for between $25-70 and will be notified by the National Archives prior to being charged. ▪Go here to download an SF-180 in PDFformat: http://www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf ▪READ the instructions on the form, FILL it out as completely as able, CAREFULLY read on page 2 “Location of Military Records” on where to send it, and MAIL it. ▪May take up to 90 days to fill the request >>SKIP ahead to page 12, unless you want to see an example from 1969 8 Join the discussion at #getmilitaryrecords
  9. 9. Example 2: “No, she served during Vietnam and got out in 1969.” ▪These arenon-archivalFederal Records, given a discharge date of 1952 or later. ▪These records are active and restrictedto access by the public. The restrictions do not apply to the following persons: 1.The veteran, him or herself, can apply online for free at eVetRecs: https://vetrecs.archives.gov/VeteranRequest/home.html 2.A deceasedveteran’s next of kincan, can apply online for free at eVetRecs: https://vetrecs.archives.gov/VeteranRequest/home.html 3.The veteran’s authorized representative may submit a manual form SF-180found here in PDF format: http://www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf Send it in along with a copy of an authorization letter, asignature, and make sure to mail it to the address identified by page 2 of the SF-180. 9 Join the discussion at #getmilitaryrecords
  10. 10. “You can file a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)” “But, what if I am not the veteran, next of kin, or their authorized representative?” •This website outlines military service information available to the requester without veteran’s or next of kin authorization: http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military- personnel/foia-info.html#foia-opfscroll UPon the page to see this information •It is a more limited record, but still provides lots of information. 10 Join the discussion at #getmilitaryrecords
  11. 11. Submitting a FOIA request: ▪Submit your FOIA letter (See an example here). Include the veteran’s name, military service number, branch of service, and dates of service. Sign the letter and mail to: National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) Military Personnel Records1 Archives DriveSt. Louis, MO 63138 ▪You should receive NPRC’s decision to respond to your FOIA Request within 20 working days, but the actual receipt of records may take up to six months. ▪You may charged for processing the request 11 Join the discussion at #getmilitaryrecords
  12. 12. Priorto starting, get the veteran’s: 1.Full name at time of service, first, last, including middle name or initial if possible 2.Social security number and their military service number (if available) 3.Branch of service, i.e.: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard 4.Date and place of birth 5.Dates of service and rank 6.Duty station, ship name, and/or unit name 7.Place of entry into the military or hometown **Please note, it is not the end of the world if you do not have all this information, but more information is better in this case. 12 Join the discussion at #getmilitaryrecords
  13. 13. Things to keep in mind: ▪Read about the fire of 1973 priorto requesting personnel records, see: http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/fire-1973.htmlDo not be discouraged though as some of these records have been reconstructed from other sources. ▪There can be errors on the discharge papers and they are not always completely accurate. Keep that in mind. ▪The turn around on some of the documents can range take from 60 days to 6 months. 13 Source: National Archives, Veterans Service Records. http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/ Accessed October 24, 2014. Join the discussion at #getmilitaryrecords
  14. 14. ▪Join the discussion at #getmilitaryrecords -OR- ▪Comment on this in the HistoryMint Blog For your military records, family, and historical research needs please see: Luke Sprague, luke@historymint.com (208) 301-3528 14

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