NARA Eliminates Pandemic Backlog of Veteran Records Requests
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has eliminated the pandemic-related backlog of veteran records requests at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in Saint Louis, MO.
“The National Archives plays a critical role in ensuring that our veterans and their families have access to the records they need for the benefits they've earned. Clearing the backlog of record requests at the National Personnel Records Center has been my top priority and I am proud that we’ve gotten this done,” said Archivist of the United States Dr. Colleen Shogan. “I want to recognize the hard work and dedication of the National Archives staff. They have worked overtime and across weekends and holidays to achieve this goal and ensure we meet our obligation to those who’ve served.”
NARA accumulated a large backlog of requests for military service records due to on-site building occupancy limits during the COVID pandemic. While the NPRC never fully closed during the pandemic because of the need to respond to emergency records requests, such as those required to support medical emergencies, funeral services, and shelter for homeless veterans, the pandemic restrictions caused on-site production to be significantly curtailed. A backlog of over 600,000 requests was accumulated, which NARA has been working to clear over the last two years.
To eliminate this backlog, the NPRC team deployed technology improvements, added staff, expanded work hours and contract labor, and made numerous building improvements to support additional work capacity. NPRC also entered into multiple agreements with the Department of Veterans Affairs to expedite the digitization of NPRC holdings, which will continue going forward.
“I have worked for the National Archives for 35 years and the pandemic and subsequent backlog presented the greatest challenges of my career, but they also led to many fast-paced, transformative changes, particularly with regard to transitioning NPRC’s holdings and processes to an electronic environment,” said NPRC Director Scott Levins. “We are routinely doing things today that were seemingly impossible before the pandemic and which position us for success for years to come.”
With the backlog cleared, NPRC is now able to respond to most routine requests for separation documents in less than a week and other types of requests within 20 days, even as it continues to receive more than 4,000 new requests each day.
To request veteran records or check the status of an existing request, please visit https://vetrecs.archives.gov/VeteranRequest/home.html.
About the National Personnel Records Center
The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) located in St. Louis, MO, is a part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The NPRC stores and provides access to more than 2 million cubic feet of records documenting U.S. military service of American veterans of all branches of service. Each year, the NPRC responds to around 1.1 million requests for military service records from veterans and their families, or more than 4,000 requests per workday. The majority of NPRC records are only available in hard copy and can only be accessed in person, by NARA staff.
About the National Archives
The National Archives and Records Administration is the nation's record keeper. It safeguards and manages the official records of the U.S. government, ensuring the documentation of our nation's history. For more information, visit www.archives.gov.