Requesting Military Personnel Records

If you've been discharged from military service, your personnel files are stored at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NARA is the official repository for records of military personnel who have been discharged from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard. The following is a summary of military personnel records:

Military Personnel Records Contents

Military personnel records are primarily administrative records and can contain information such as:

  • enlistment/appointment
  • duty stations and assignments
  • training, qualifications, performance
  • awards and medals
  • disciplinary actions
  • insurance
  • emergency data
  • administrative remarks
  • separation/discharge/retirement (including DD Form 214,
  • Report of Separation, or equivalent)
    and other personnel actions.

Detailed information about the veteran's participation in military battles and engagements is NOT contained in the record.

Obtaining Military Records

Recent military service and medical records are not online. However, most veterans and their next-of-kin can obtain free copies of their DD Form 214 (Report of Separation) and other records several ways:

Military Health Records

Most Official Military Personnel Files contain both personnel and active duty health records, but this practice was discontinued by the service branches beginning in 1992. See Military Medical and Health Records for more details.

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Military Personnel Records

The National Archives's National Personnel Records Center (Military Personnel Records) (NPRC-MPR) stores records of individual military service pertaining to former service members who no longer have a service obligation. Included are records of veterans who are completely discharged (with no remaining reserve commitment), or who are retired or have died. Records are usually transferred to NPRC (MPR) within six months after these events. NPRC (MPR) does not have records of members who are still in the active or inactive reserves or in the National Guard. The records of each military service department on file at NPRC (MPR) are listed under Location of Military Service Records.

Military Records Archival Program

The Department of Defense and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) signed an agreement to make the Official Military Personnel Files a permanent series of records, transferred to NARA custody 62 years after the service member's separation from the military. The new Archival Program Division at the National Personnel Records Center now holds nearly 1.2 million official military personnel files of former US Navy and Marine Corps enlisted personnel who served between 1885 and 1939. Also available are the records of 150 "persons of exceptional prominence", including former Presidents, famous military leaders, celebrities, entertainers and professional athletes who served in the military and have been deceased for at least 10 years. These records above are open to the public and researchers at the Archival Research Room.

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Additional Information

Additional information on the contents of Military Service Records and Personnel Files:

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