Veterans Service Records Request Backlog Eliminated Following Tester Efforts

National Personnel Records Center tackles claims backlog following Chairman’s push to provide veterans with timelier access to benefits

The backlog of requests for military service records at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) has been eliminated following sustained efforts from Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester. The NPRC, operated by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), stores military service records that veterans rely on to access their earned Department of Veterans Affairs-administered (VA) programs, including health care, education, disability, pension, and burial benefits.

“Veterans need to be able to quickly access their military service records to apply for the VA care and benefits they earned,” said Tester. “These men and women should never have to wait months on end to access these critical records, and I’m glad NPRC staff worked overtime to tackle this backlog for veterans seeking their hard-earned benefits. This is a step in the right direction, and I’ll keep working with my colleagues to make sure the NPRC has the support it needs to deliver for veterans in a timely manner.”

From March 2020 through March 2022, the NPRC backlog grew to more than 600,000 pending requests from veterans for military service records due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. To tackle the backlog, NPRC worked with to build its capacity to fulfill veterans’ requests by implementing technology improvements, hiring additional staff, expanding its contract labor, and upgrading its building. It also worked with VA to start digitizing NPRC records.

As Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee and a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Tester helped secured funds that allowed the NPRC and VA to begin digitizing veterans’ military service records in the PACT Actthe CARES Act, the American Rescue Planthe Fiscal Year 2022 federal funding bill. He also helped authorize funding for NARA to address the records backlog and roll-out a plan to clear the backlog of hundreds of thousands of record requests in the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.

Tester has been a leading advocate for tackling the NPRC’s record backlog since day one. In June 2020, Tester sounded the alarm and urged the NPRC to provide timely service record retrievals for veterans in Montana and across the country amidst delays due to the pandemic. In March 2021, the Senator additionally called on the Biden Administration to prioritize addressing veterans’ service records requests and increase the NPRC’s operating capacity. Tester and a bipartisan group of his Senate colleagues also wrote to NARA in September 2023 about their concerns with the ongoing delay in veterans receiving their military service records form the NPRC and asking for updates on its efforts to tackle the records backlog.


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