Accessing Veterans’ Records from the National Archives or National Personnel Records Center
Are you looking for your service records, or those of a family member? The National Archives in St. Louis, MO, is the official repository of millions of records for all military personnel—from all service branches—who served during the late 19th and 20th century.
Though military personnel files constitute its core holdings, the National Archives at St. Louis is the repository for numerous document types, such as the Selective Service System registration cards and classification ledgers that document the military draft between 1940 and 1975; Army General Courts Martial case files (including an index for records dated 1911-1976, and accessing records dated 1940-1976, with all records dated through 1917 in our Washington, DC building and those dated approximately 1918-1939 in our College Park, Maryland facility); and trade cards describing specific aspects of civilian work in Naval shipyards during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The holdings also include personnel files of individuals employed by the Civil Service, such as the Civilian Conservation Corps, Works Progress Administration, Panama Canal Commission, Department of State, U.S. Customs Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs and several hundred additional government departments.
Military Personnel Records
Archival records: The National Archives at St. Louis maintains Official Military Personnel Files (OMPFs) of those service members that were discharged, retired or deceased 62 years from the current date. These records belong to the National Archives and become archival 62 years after the service member’s separation from the military. This is a rolling date. For example, the current year (2023) minus 62 years is 1961. Therefore, records with a discharge date of 1961 and prior are archival and open to the public. Additionally, various records of Persons of Exceptional Prominence (PEP) are also archival and open to the public. Requests for archival records do not require a signature.
A fire in 1973 destroyed 80% of our Army personnel records from 1912 to 1960 and 75% of our Air Force records from 1947 to 1964, with names alphabetically after Hubbard, James E. Please keep in mind when requesting a record from these particular service branches that the record may be fire related and require preservation treatment. If this is the case, it will take several weeks to either receive a copy of the record, if requested by mail, or view the record in the archival research room, if visiting our facility.
Non-archival records: Records of individuals who left service less than 62 years ago are not yet archival. These non-archival records are maintained at the National Personnel Records Center, but remain in the legal custody of the military service departments. A non-archival OMPF is open to the Veteran, the next of kin or to a third-party requester who has the Veteran’s written authorization. Under the provisions of FOIA, the general public may only obtain limited information from these records. Requests for non-archival records must be signed and dated.
A request for a military personnel record, archival or non-archival, should include:
• The Veteran’s complete name used in service
• Service number
• Branch of service
• Date and place of birth
• Dates of service
For archival or non-archival requests, submit a letter or Standard Form 180 with the above information to:
National Personnel Records Center
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138
Or, to request an archival or non-archival record via eVetRecs, visit www.archives.gov and follow the steps provided. This is usually the fastest process.
Please also note that there could be a cost depending on the materials requested and the purpose of the request.
For further information on VA & State benefits, contact Montgomery County Veterans Service at 936-539-7842 or via email [email protected], and on Facebook at Montgomery County Veterans Service.