Finding your father's military records can sometimes shed light on a mysterious and little known part of your father's life and help honour his memory. These records can also help you apply for veteran benefits, if you are eligible. The cost of these documents and records are free for the next of kin of the veteran. Military records are kept at the National Personnel Records Center, which receives about 4,900 records request a day but they respond to the majority of requests within 10 days, according to the NPRC website.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Visit the National Archives website to begin your search. Military records are only available to the next of kin of deceased military veterans. Next of kin is described as a surviving spouse that has not remarried, father, mother, son, daughter, sister or brother.
Click on "Request Service Records" at the bottom left hand corner of the page. Click on the "Download Form SF-180 to Mail or Fax Your Request." Download and print the form.
Fill out the form. You will need your father's complete name, Social Security number, service number, branch of service, dates of service and date and place of birth. If the service number is not known the file can still be completed as long as you include your father's date and place of birth.
Add your father's place of discharge, last unit assignment and place of entry into the service if there is a possibility his records were destroyed in the 1973 building fire that destroyed millions of personnel records.
Sign and date the forms. Include proof of your father's death with the forms. Proof of death includes a copy of his death certificate, a copy of his obituary or a letter from the funeral home that handled his funeral. If the records are being requested in order to apply for veterans benefits and the documents are needed by a specific date, include this information.
Mail the form and documents to:
NPRC Mailing Address:
National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63132-5100
Or fax the form and documents to: 314-801-9195
Check on the status of your request after 10 days by e-mailing the NPRC at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Provide the name, address, phone number of the requester, the veteran's branch of service and the request number, if you have one. You may also call the centre weekdays between 7am CST and 5pm at: 314-801-0800
Write a letter that includes all of the information and documents required for the SF-180 form, if you are unable to print or download the form. Mail the letter to the National Personnel Records Center.
Visit the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Schedule an appointment with the centre in advance so the staff can find and locate the documents ahead of time. It may take a while for staff members to find documents quickly if you make an unannounced visit.
Hire an independent researcher or genealogist. Professional researchers may have access to other military records and provide more thorough research.
Contact your state or county veterans agency. State or county governments sometimes supply copies of local veteran's records to next of kin.
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