Veterans Affairs: Obtaining Military Service Records

Reason for this post: Sometimes I get frustrated hearing all of the stories that my fellow veterans go through in order to get their own Military Service Records! They need to know what they can do to get their service records.

Without going into much detail I have the blessing of working with my fellow veterans when they are in need of help when they are having issue with the Department of Veterans Affairs or with the U.S. Military.  However, the one thing that makes me upset is when other organizations that have little to no understanding of how to get a veterans military service records – they simple tell the veteran:

A) Your records burned in a fire.

B) What records.

My personal opinion, this task should not be so difficult for the veteran. So after doing research I was able to find some useful information for you or a veteran you know that is searching for his military service records.

What to do: First – ask NARA

If the veteran is a WWII, Vietnam, Korea, or Desert Storm era Veteran most (if not all) of their military service records will be available at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). They have a really user friendly website at that the veteran or caretaker of the veteran can visit and put in the request for a variety of records including inpatient and outpatient records.

Caution: Modern Era Veterans take note!

The OEF, OIF, and modern era veterans may get some of their records from NARA but may get a letter stating that their records are with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA).

(Side Note – Learn from my Mistake)

Coincidentally, from my personal experience, NARA did not direct me to where I can submit my request with the DVA to get my Military Service Records (MSR). Calling the DVA also was difficult because there was not an option to select for the records department on their operator list when I called the general 1-888 VA “help” line. Then after getting nowhere and spending countless hours on hold another veteran pointed me in the right direction.

Next Step – ask the RMC

Therefore, if you are directed that the Department of Veteran’s Affairs has the remaining records. The specific department within the VA you can request is the Records Management Center and the number they posted for this was 1-888-533-4558  (Last updated 6/21/2017)

By contacting NARA or the RMC to request your records was pretty straight forward as far as submitting the requesting documents. NARA, as previously mentioned uses a more user friendly method which allows you to submit an email to receive notification once they receive your faxed signature and request into their office. I received notification from NARA pretty quickly when they were processing my request and it was about a month or two before I received notification that the DVA (RMC) had the remainder of my MRS.

The RMC was easy to submit too, but like their “help” line the processing time to get my records was 8 months+, so proceed with caution.

Hope this information was useful! God Bless America, and have a great day!


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