By Robert L. Mues   |   July 24th, 2010

nat_arc1.jpgOne of my all time favorite family law blogs is Updates in Michigan Family Law written by Attorney Jeanne M. Hannah. I read her posts every week even though thinking about Michigan gives me a twinge of pain as a “Buckeye”.  Nonetheless, her posts are always informative and excellent! She recently posted on a topic that I felt would be of interest to our readers, especially since our law office is only a few miles from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. With Jeanne’s kind permission, I have republished her article below.

There are times when, in a family law case, it is important to have the military personnel records of a service member. Some records from personnel files are available and stored in various locations; some records are of a medial or mental health issue. Those are kept in other locations. Some of those may be unavailable.

Most veteran’s records are stored at the National Archives and Records Administration’s National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR). This includes records of veterans who are completely discharged (with no remaining reserve commitment), or who are retired or have died.  Starting in 1995, the service departments gradually began retaining their personnel records in electronic format and all but the Coast Guard now have stopped transferring them to NPRC-MPR.  NPRC-MPR does not have records of members who are still in the active or inactive reserves or in the National Guard.  The locations of most personnel records are listed by service branch.

nat_arc2.jpgMilitary Personnel Records:

Older military personnel records (generally prior to WWI, depending on the service branch) are on file at the National Archives and Records Administration, Old Military and Civil Records Branch (NWCTB), Washington, DC 20408.  See How to obtain copies of Older Military Records for more information.

Approximately 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files pertaining to certain Army and Air Force service members were destroyed in a disastrous fire at NPRC (MPR) in 1973. 

Most Official Military Personnel Files at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) prior to 1992 contain both personnel and active duty health records. Health records cover outpatient, dental, and mental health treatment which a former member received while in the military service.  Health records documents include induction and separation physical examinations, and routine medical care (doctor/dental visits, lab tests, etc.) when the patient was not admitted to a hospital.

In comparison, clinical (hospital inpatient) records are NOT filed with the health records but are generally retired to NPRC (MPR) by the hospital or facility which created them. Other medical records which would not be included are Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) records, or records for service after 1992 (detailed below).

The practice of filing health records with the personnel record portion has been discontinued.  In 1992, the Army began retiring most of its former members’ health records to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  The other services made this change on the dates shown below:

Branch

Status

Health Record To VA

Army

Discharged, retired, or separated from any component

October 16, 1992

Air Force

Discharged, retired, or separated from Active Duty Discharged or retired from Reserves or National Guard

May 1, 1994 June 1, 1994

Navy

Discharged, retired, or separated from any component

January 31, 1994

Marine Corps

Discharged, retired, or separated from any component

May 1, 1994

Coast Guard

Discharged, retired, or separated from Active Duty – Reservists with 90 days active duty for training

April 1, 1998

After the dates shown on the chart above, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Records Management Center , St. Louis, MO, maintains the active duty health records or manages their whereabouts when on loan within the VA.  Call the VA toll free number at 1-800-827-1000 to identify the current location of specific health records and to find out how to obtain releasable documents or information.

Filing Medical Claims

Veterans who plan to file a claim for medical benefits with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) do not need to request a copy of their military health record from NPRC (MPR). The original health records are provided by the Center when requested by the VA after the claim is filed. Many health records were lent to the Department of Veterans Affairs prior to the 1973 fire.

Veterans who filed a medical claim should contact the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in order to determine if their record is already on file. The VA Toll Free # is: 1-800-827-1000 and will connect the caller to the nearest VA office.

To read Jeanne’s original article posted on Updates in Michigan Family Law, click here.

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Robert L. MuesAbout The Author: Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog.

Location of Military Service Records and How to Obtain Them

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