Rebuilding Service Records

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Are you a veteran who does not have copies of your military records? If you learn that your records have been lost there is a way to reconstruct them through alternate sources of military service data.

Alternate Sources of Military Service Data

When veterans don't have copies of their military records and their files may have been lost in the fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis fire in 1973, information about their military service may be available from a number of other sources.

  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) maintains records on veterans whose military records were affected by the fire if the veteran or a beneficiary filed a claim before July 1973.
  • Service information may also be found in various kinds of "organizational" records such as unit morning reports, payrolls and military orders on file at the NPRC or other National Archives and Records Administration facilities.
  • There also is a great deal of information available in records of the State Adjutants General, and other state "veterans services" offices.

By using alternate sources, NPRC often can reconstruct a veteran's beginning and ending dates of active service, the character of service, rank, time lost on active duty, and periods of hospitalization. The NPRC can issue what is known as an "Official Military Personnel File" in these cases. 

Necessary Information for File Reconstruction

The key to reconstructing military data is to give the NPRC enough specific information so the staff can properly search the various sources. The following information is normally required:

  • Full name used during military service
  • Branch of service
  • Approximate dates of service
  • Service number or Social Security number
  • Place of entry into service
  • Last unit of assignment
  • Place of discharge

For more information see the National Personnel Record Center's website.

Reconstruction of Lost Records

If veterans learn that their records may have been lost in the fire, they may send photocopies of any documents they possess -- especially separation documents -- to the NPRC. The address is:

National Personnel Records Center
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, Missouri 63138

The NPRC will add those documents to the computerized index and file them permanently.

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