A Rundown on Requesting FOIA Military Records
You may want to access military records for government benefits or historical research. Regardless of your reasons, this article will assist you in filing any FOIA requests for military records.
Does the Freedom of Information Act Apply to Military Records?
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), passed in 1966, allows all citizens to request access to federal agencies’ records. Agencies cannot disclose any info that is part of FOIA exemptions (e.g., classified info regarding national security or an agency’s internal practices).
The general public can access certain military records by filing FOIA requests, including:
- Service number
- Branch of service
- Dates of service
- Final duty status
- Transcript of courts-martial trials
- Awards and decorations
- Final rank
- Assignments and geographical locations
- Source of commission
- Military education level
- Promotion sequence number
- Place of entrance and separation
- Place of birth and burial of a deceased veteran
- Date and geographical location of a veteran’s death
Are There Any FOIA or Public Military Service Records Online?
Certain veterans’ and military documents are available on the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website. You can also browse the National Archives catalog and the Archival Databases (AAD) system of the National Archives. This way, you may find what you’re looking for without filing a FOIA request.
How To File the Freedom of Information Act Requests for Military Service
The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) is part of NARA. The NPCR holds military records you can access by submitting a FOIA request.
Can I Write My Own FOIA Request Letter?
If you prefer to write your own request letter, you can do that too. Your letter should include:
- Veteran's full name
- Date and place of birth
- Service number or Social Security number
- Branch of service
- Dates of service
- Obituary/copy of death certificate/letter from a funeral home (if you are the veteran’s next of kin)
Where Do I Send My FOIA Military Records Request?
Regardless of how you compose your FOIA request, you can send it via fax or mail. Typically, you should send your request to the NPRC’s main location, but you can check the list of all locations of military service records.
Check out the NPCR details in the table below:
|NPCR Fax Number||NPCR Mailing Address|
|National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
1 Archives Drive
St. Louis, MO 63138
Send a FOIA Request for Military Records With DoNotPay
Would you like to fill in a FOIA request form and submit it online? It’s possible with our app!
DoNotPay is an all-in-one tool for sending any FOIA requests, whether they’re on yourself or someone else. We will ask you a few questions regarding the records you wish to obtain, and we’ll draft and send the letter in your stead.
Here’s how it works:
- Open DoNotPay in a web browser
- Locate our FOIA feature
- Type in Military Records in the search bar
- Indicate whether you want to apply for expedited processing or a fee waiver
DoNotPay’s learning center boasts a myriad of articles dedicated to specific federal agencies and their FOIA request processes, such as:
- The Army
- The Navy
- Air Force
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
- United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
When Will the NPRC Process My FOIA Request?
The NPRC responds to most FOIA requests within ten days, but the response time varies depending on the requests’ complexity. The center receives between 4,000 and 5,000 requests each day, so delays are possible.
How Can I Check the Status of My FOIA Request?
You can check your FOIA request status:
- Via phone
To check your status online, you can visit the Check request status page and enter your service request number. You should receive this number in an acknowledgment letter or see it when you fill in your request form online.
If you can’t find your request number, you should complete the online status update request form. You’ll need to provide:
- Your name, address, and phone number
- Veteran's branch of service
If you prefer to check your FOIA status via phone, you should call the NPRC's customer service line at 314-801-0800 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST. The customer service receives a high volume of calls, so you may have to be on hold for a long time.
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