Military Law

Obtaining Your Military Records

Do you have the need or desire to obtain your military records? The federal government stores records on people who have been discharged from the military. As a veteran, you can request a copy of your records. If you're the next of kin of a deceased veteran, you also have the right to request this information.

What Information Is Contained in My Military Records?

Your military personnel records will primarily contain administrative information. It won't contain information about any battles or engagements you were involved in during your military service. Common information found in your records include:

  • Duty assignments
  • Enlistment/appointment
  • Administrative remarks
  • Awards and medals
  • Training, qualifications and performance
  • Disciplinary actions
  • Discharge and retirement

Where Are My Military Records Held?

As a veteran, your military personnel records are probably stored at the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR). This center is controlled by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Many of the newer records are now being retained by each military service. They aren't being transferred over to the NPRC-MPR.

Your military medical records are also probably stored at the NPRC-MPR. However, starting in 1992, most health records are now being transferred to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

How Do I Request My Military Records?

There are several ways you can request a copy of your military records. The most common ways include:

  • Filling out a Standard Form 180 (SF-180)
  • Writing a letter to request records
  • Using an online order system

Standard Form 180 (SF-180) is the most common method of requesting military records. It asks for all the necessary information that's needed to find a record. Information that you'll need to complete the form include:

  • Service number
  • Social security number
  • Branch of service
  • Service dates
  • Date and place of birth

You must sign and date the form. The form will have the address that you need. If you're the next of kin of a deceased veteran, you also need to send proof of the veteran's death.

If you're unable to obtain SF-180, you can write a letter requesting your military records. You must make sure to include all the information asked for by SF-180. The more information you provide, the easier and faster your records will be found. Mail the letter to:

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

The NARA has also created an online military personnel records request system. This system is called eVetRecs. Only veterans or, if deceased, their next of kin can use this system. The system is user-friendly and will take you step by step through the process. You still must print, sign and date the request once you're finished. All requests for records and information must be submitted in writing.

How Long Does the Request Process Take?

There's no telling exactly how long your request will take. The NPRC-MPR receives thousands of requests a day. The range can be from a few days to a few months. You can check the status of your request by e-mail at mpr.status@nara.gov or by telephone at 314-801-0800.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • What are the benefits of having an attorney help me receive my military records?
  • Can I request my military records even if I live outside the country?
  • What can I do if the NPRC-MPR can't find my military records?
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