Obtaining Military Records

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Last year, I became a hospice care volunteer. I am the first in a new State program where I (as a Veteran) visit other Veterans. In the short time Iíve been doing this, the main question Iím asked (by either the patient or caregiver) is about obtaining copies of the patientís military records. Iíve been doing this for other veterans since my enlistment (1974), so am very familiar with the process.

The reason for this letter is to highly recommend that if you (or someone you know) does not possess a copy of their military records, please ensure you take the time to investigate NOW. The time to do it isnít when the military member is faced with a medical emergency and/or requiring VA health care. Even if the military member doesnít want VA coverage (or a military burial), that may change later in life.

History: If youíre not aware, there was a major fire in St. Louis during 1973 that destroyed almost 18 million records (http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/fire-1973.html). You can request a copy of military records by going to http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/about-ompfs.html. You can pay for services like http://www.myfreedd214.com/ but theyíre a rip off. Trust me; everyone (eventually) goes through the National Archives.

If you assume the military has copies of these records, well, think again. I recently read a letter sent by the National Archives to a fellow Veteran that basically said his records had been destroyed in the earlier fire and unless he could provide additional information, he never served. Now, this particular Veteran happens to be bed ridden, on oxygen and 94 years old! Obviously he canít research anything and unfortunately all of his personal records had been destroyed in an earlier fire. Fortunately I remembered that years ago when someone was discharged, the S-1 of the unit provided the State home of record a copy of their DD214.

Again, donít wait around to obtain copies of military records. When in doubt, well, get them now.

One of the best reference sites Iíve found regarding DD214s is http://dd214.us/

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