Answer Man

How can veterans get copies of their records of military service?

Q: I am a veteran with no computer. Can you publish the address of whom to write for copies of my 201 of Army service?

Will Todd, of Dupo

A: As you probably know when you deal with the government, you’ll need a Form 7693 to request Form 948 that will entitle you to Form 69253, etc., etc., etc.

So to thank you for your service, I will get you started by sending you a copy of Standard Form 180, along with instructions, which you will fill out to get the ball rolling. If you were discharged or retired before Sept. 30, 2002, you’ll send it to the National Personnel Records Center at 1 Archives Drive in St. Louis, MO 63138-1002.

The NPRC across the river has nearly 2 million cubic feet of military records, including the personnel files of former presidents George H.W. Bush and John F. Kennedy, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and baseball hall-of-famers Ted Williams and Jackie Robinson. But they’re just five of the more than 34 million files available here. No wonder in a typical year, the staff of about 600 responds to more than 2 million requests for information and copies of documents.

As you may remember, a devastating fire on July 12, 1973, destroyed about 20 million personnel files, either in whole or in part, of Army vets discharged between 1912 and 1959 and Air Force vets from 1947 to 1963. Since then, however, the agency has obtained alternative sources of documents to verify the dates of individual military service and the character of separation.

To see what’s in their files, veterans are encouraged to use eVetRecs to submit inquiries via the Internet. For information, go to www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records. Those like you without computers are asked to fill out the SF 180, which can be obtained by requesting one from the center or obtaining one at libraries or through veterans organizations. Even without a form, you can send a letter that includes your name, military branch, years of service, Social Security number, service number, signature and date.

In return, you’ll probably be asking for your DD Form 214, which includes dates of service, final rank, awards earned and military occupation speciality. Others may request health records, replacement service medals and verification for entitlement for burial in a national cemetery. The agency says it can provide copies of separation documents within two weeks 75 percent of the time. Other requests may take up to five weeks.

Best wishes.

Today’s trivia

What may have been the most valuable item ever appraised on “Antiques Roadshow”?

Answer to Wednesday’s trivia: The first use of an ambulance in emergencies may have come under the reign of Queen Isabella I of Castile in 1487 when injured Spanish soldiers were taken to military hospitals known then as ambulancias.

Roger Schlueter: 618-239-2465, @RogerAnswer

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