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Getting a Copy of Your Military Records

The National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR), in St. Louis, MO, is the repository of millions of military personnel, health, and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans of all services during the 20th century. NPRC (MPR) also stores medical treatment records of retirees from all services, as well as records for dependent and other persons treated at naval medical facilities. Copies of most military and medical records on file at NPRC (MPR) can be made available upon request.


Getting a Copy of Your Military Records

Veterans and “Next of Kin”: Veterans and next of kin of deceased veterans have the same rights to full access to the records. Next of kin can include widows, widowers, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters of the deceased veteran.

Authorized Representatives: Authorized third party requesters ( i.e. 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. If a signed authorization is used, it is important to include exactly what is being authorized to be released to the third party. Authorizations are valid one year from the date of signature.

General Public: The general public can request some parts of a veteran’s military record without the authorization of the veteran or next of kin. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Privacy Act provide balance between the right of the public to obtain information from military service records and the right of the former military service member to protect his or her privacy. In general, information available from military service records which can be released without violation of the Privacy Act are: Name, Service Number, Rank, Dates of Service, Awards and Decorations, and Place of Entrance and Separation. If the veteran is deceased, the Place of Birth, Date of Death, Geographical Location of Death, and Place of Burial can also be released.

Court Order: Access to military personnel and medical records on file at the National Personnel Records Center may also be gained pursuant “to the order of a court of competent jurisdiction.” Subpoenas qualify as orders of a court of competent jurisdiction only if a judge has signed them. To be valid, court orders must also be signed by a judge.

The records stored at the National Personnel Records Center cover military personnel who were discharged on or after the below-listed dates:
  • Air Force Officers and Enlisted – September 25, 1947
  • Army Officers separated July 1, 1917
  • Army Enlisted separated November 1, 1912
  • Navy Officers separated January 1, 1903
  • Navy Enlisted separated January 1, 1886
  • Marine Corps Officers and Enlisted separated January 1, 1905
  • Coast Guard Officers and Enlisted separated January 1, 1898

    Military personnel records for individuals separated before these dates are on file at the National Archives and Records Administration, Old Military and Civil Records Branch (NWCTB), Washington, DC 20408. E-mail address: inquire@arch2.nara.gov.

    Federal law requires that all requests for records and information be submitted in writing. The easiest way to do this is by using Standard Form (SF) 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records.

    Requesting Copies of Military Records (Including DD Form 214/215)

    Requests must contain enough information to identify the record among the more than 70 million on file at the National Personnel Records Center. The Center needs certain basic information in order 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 1793 firs, also include place of discharge, last unit of assignment, and place of entry into the service, if known.

    The SF 180, although not mandatory, is the recommended method to send a request for military service information. This form captures all the necessary information to locate a record. Provide as much information on the form as possible and send copies of any service documents that you may have. Requests may also be submitted as a letter, containing the basic information listed above.

    Mail the completed SF 180 or signed written request to:

    The National Personnel Records Center
    Military Personnel Records
    9700 Page Avenue
    St. Louis, MO 63132-5100

    Completing a Records Request Online

    Veterans and Next of Kin can now complete a records request online. One must still print out and sign a signature verification and mail or fax the verification, because Federal Law requires a signature on all record requests. However, completing the application online can be easier and faster than completing the SF Form 180.

    Those who are not veterans or next of kin cannot use the online system. They must complete the SF 180.

    Requesting Copies of Military Medical Records

    Clinical and medical treatment records are filed at the National Personnel Records Center by the name of the facility which last had responsibility for the records. Therefore, in order to request information from medical records you must provide the following information:

  • Name of the last facility which had responsibility for the treatment Record. Usually this is the last facility at which treatment was provided.
  • The year and the type of treatment (inpatient, outpatient, dental, mental health, etc.). If copies of specific records are needed it is important to be sure to state the type of illness, injury, or treatment involved.
  • The patient’s full name used during treatment.
  • The patient’s social security number and status during treatment [military, retiree, dependent of military, federal employee, dependent, or other (specify)].
  • Branch of service and sponsor’s service number or social security number (if the former patient is or was a dependent).

    You should provide as much information as possible. It may not be possible to locate a record if important identifying information is missing. For medical records of separated/retired military personnel and Navy/Marine Corps dependents, requests should be sent to:

    National Personnel Records Center
    Military Personnel Records
    9700 Page Avenue
    St. Louis, MO 63132-5100

    For medical records of Air Force, Coast Guard, or Army Dependents, requests should be sent to:

    National Personnel Records Center
    Civilian Personnel Records
    111 Winnebago Street
    St. Louis, MO 63118-4126

    Veterans who plan to file a claim for medical benefits with the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) do not need to request a copy of their military health record from the National Personnel Records Center. When a VA claim is filed, the Department of Veteran Affairs will request the record automatically, as part of the claims process.

    Generally, there is no charge for military personnel and health record information provided to veterans, next of kin, and authorized representatives. If your request involves a service fee, you will be notified as soon as that determination is made.

    How Long Does it Take?

    Recently, NPRC has transformed the way it responds to inquiries, to provide dramatically improved customer service. This Business Process Reengineering project has changed structures and systems that in some cases have been in place since the center was formed forty years ago. However, nearly 20,000 requests are processed each week. Turnaround times for records requested from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) vary greatly depending on the nature of the request. For example, requests that involve reconstruction efforts due to the 1973 fire may take much longer to process than others.

    Medical Records

    Active Duty Health Records: Health records cover outpatient, dental, and mental health treatment which a former member received while in the military service. Health records documents include induction and separation physical examinations and routine medical care (doctor/dental visits, lab tests, etc.) when the patient was not admitted to a hospital. In comparison, clinical (hospital inpatient) records are not filed with the health records, but are generally retired to National Personnel Records Center by the facility that created them.

    The health records were formerly retired to NPRC with the personnel record portion when a member was released, discharged, or retired from active duty. That practice has since been discontinued. In 1992, the Army began retiring most of its former members’ health records to the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). The other services made this change on the dates shown below:

  • Army (Discharged, retired, or separated from any component) – October 16, 1992
  • Air Force (Discharged, retired, or separated from Active Duty) – May 1, 1994
  • Air Force (Discharged or retired from Reserves or National Guard) – June 1, 1994
  • Navy (Discharged, retired, or separated from any component) – January 31, 1994
  • Marine Corps (Discharged, retired, or separated from any component) – May 1, 1994
  • Coast Guard (Discharged, retired, or separated from Active Duty – Reservists with 90 days active duty for training) – April 1, 1998

    After the dates shown above, the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), Records Management Center, St. Louis, MO, maintains the active duty health records or manages their whereabouts when on loan within the VA. This VA toll free number, 1-800-827-1000, can be called to identify the current location of specific health records and to find out how to obtain releasable documents or information.

    For active duty medical records requests before the dates listed above, requests should be sent to:

    National Personnel Records Center Military Personnel Records 111 Winnebago Street St. Louis, MO 63118-4126

    Active Duty Clinical (Inpatient) Hospital Records: Clinical (inpatient) records are compiled when members are actually hospitalized while in the service. An overnight stay or admission generally makes a patient an inpatient. The resulting records from hospital care are called either clinical or inpatient records. Clinical (inpatient) records are filed at NPRC by the name of the hospital in which the member was treated. Therefore, NPRC needs the name of the hospital, month (if known), and year of treatment, as well as the veteran’s name and social security or service number to locate a clinical record.

    Clinical records are retired to NPRC in annual collections by the creating hospital. Army and Air Force records are retained one calendar year, and Navy records are retained two calendar years before retirement. Teaching hospitals that maintain Clinical Record Libraries may retain records up to five years before retirement to NPRC.

    Requests should be sent to:

    National Personnel Records Center Military Personnel Records 111 Winnebago Street St. Louis, MO 63118-4126

    Retiree Medical Records: NPRC stores records of inpatient, outpatient, dental, and mental health treatment provided to military retirees. These records reflect health care for former members during their retirement years and do not include active duty medical records. Some record collections date from the 1940s and 1950s, but more comprehensive information exists beginning in the 1960s. The retiree records are sent to NPRC (MPR) from facilities of all military services generally after one to five years of inactivity and are retained for 50 years from the year of the last patient activity.

    Prior to 2003, the Army, Navy, and Air Force retired their retiree records to NPRC (MPR). Beginning in 2003 the Army and Navy retired their retiree records to NPRC (MPR), but the Air Force began retiring their retiree records to NPRC (Civilian Personnel Records Section). If possible, contact the last medical treatment facility to determine if records have been retired to NPRC (MPR) before sending a request.

    National Personnel Records Center Military Personnel Records 111 Winnebago Street St. Louis, MO 63118-4126

    National Personnel Records Center Civilian Personnel Records 111 Winnebago Street St. Louis, MO 63118-4126

    Dependents: NPRC (MPR) stores records of inpatient, outpatient, dental, and mental health created at medical treatment facilities of the U.S. Navy. Some record collections date from the 1940s and 1950s, but more comprehensive information exists beginning in the 1960s. These Navy medical records are sent to NPRC (MPR) generally after one to five years of inactivity and are retained 50 years from the year of the last patient activity. If possible, contact the last medical treatment facility to determine if records have been retired to NPRC (MPR) before sending a request.

    National Personnel Records Center Military Personnel Records 111 Winnebago Street St. Louis, MO 63118-4126

    Medical records of individuals treated at Army and Air Force medical facilities are stored at two separate locations within the National Personnel Records Center. Prior to 2003, the Army and Air Force retired medical records of this type to NPRC (CPR). See below (Dependent Medical Folders) for complete information and requesting procedures concerning medical records retired prior to 2003. Beginning in 2003, NPRC (CPR) continued to receive Air Force Dependent Medical records, but the Army began retiring their medical records for dependents and others to NPRC (MPR). If possible, contact the last medical treatment facility to determine if records have been retired to NPRC (MPR) before sending a request.

    National Personnel Records Center Military Personnel Records 111 Winnebago Street St. Louis, MO 63118-4126

    National Personnel Records Center Civilian Personnel Records 111 Winnebago Street St. Louis, MO 63118-4126

    Dependent Medical Folders

    The National Personnel Records Center, Civilian Personnel Facility stores dependent medical folders (DMFs) for dependents treated at Army, Air Force, or Coast Guard facilities from 1954 to the present. Records prior to 1954 were destroyed in accordance with legal authorities in effect at the time. (DMFs for dependents treated at Navy facilities are stored at the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Facility.) DMFs are transferred to the center between one and five years after the last treatment.

    Requesting Medical Records

    To request information from a DMF, follow the steps below.

    STEP 1 – Provide written authorization.

  • If you are the subject of the file, send a signed letter indicating that you are requesting information from your own file.
  • If requested records are for a dependent less than 18 years old, a parent or guardian may sign the request.
  • If you are not the subject of the file, send a letter signed by the subject indicating that he or she authorizes the NPRC (CPR) to release information to you.

    STEP 2 – Provide information necessary to identify the file. The search for the file will be expedited by containing as complete information as possible.

    For in-patient (clinical) records:

  • Name of dependent at time of treatment
  • Name of military sponsor
  • Sponsor’s Social Security or service number
  • Name and location of hospitalizing facility
  • Year of hospitalization

    For out-patient (health) records:

  • Name of dependent at time of treatment
  • Name of military sponsor
  • Sponsor’s Social Security or service number
  • Information needed, for example, vaccination record
  • Name and location of last treatment facility
  • Year of last treatment





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