Reconstructing Lost Military Service Records

It is very difficult to be awarded VA disability benefits without your military records. But if you learn that the records of your service have been lost, there ways to reconstruct them.

Lost military service records are a bigger problem than the VA wants to admit. In 1973 there was a fire where military records are stored at the National Personnel Records Center located in St. Louis. If you were in the Army before 1960, there's 4 in 5 chance that your records were destroyed. 

But even much later, during the Gulf War, recordkeeping was so poor that the Army was forced to spend years and millions of dollars to reconstruct the locations of troops who may have been exposed to toxic chemicals that were among the suspected causes of Gulf War Syndrome.  When wars broke out in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Pentagon was determined not to repeat their recordkeeping mistakes, but once again they came up short. Many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are unable to document the location and functions of their military units which can have a significant bearing on thousands of disability cases.

If you are a veteran who has learned that your records have been lost there are ways to reconstruct them through alternate sources of military service data. If you have photocopies of your records—especially separation documents—you can send them to the National Personnel Record Center. Service information may also be found in various kinds of organizational records such as unit morning reports, payrolls, and military orders on file at the Record Center or other facilities. There also is a great deal of information available in records of the State Adjutants General, and other state veterans services offices.

By using alternate sources, often the NPRC can reconstruct a veteran's beginning and ending dates of active service, the character of their service, their rank, time lost on active duty, and periods of hospitalization. The NPRC can issue what is known as an "Official Military Personnel File" in these cases. 

 

At Cuddigan Law we’ve seen vets whose cases were denied because the VA claimed their records were lost. In our opinion this is immoral. No vet with a valid medical impairment caused by their service to the country should be denied benefits. We are here to help you get the benefits you are entitled to. Call us today for a free evaluation of your case.

 

 

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska