There are many reasons you may need copies of your military records. If you are filing a claim with the VA, any record of traumatic events, injuries, and medical treatment you received during your service can be helpful. If you are applying for veterans’ preference, a tax exemption, or other state and federal benefits you will probably need a copy of your discharge papers (Form DD-214). If you are a spouse or dependents of a veteran you will probably also need a record of the veteran’s military service and documentation of your relationship to the veteran such as a marriage or birth certificate.
There are many different types of military records. The following is a list of some of the most common records and how to obtain them. This is not an exhaustive list. If you have a complicated VA claim or issue with trying to upgrade your discharge there may be other records available that can be helpful.
Each military branch maintains its own military personnel records for servicemembers on active duty. Once a servicemember has been discharged and no longer has any further service obligation, his or her personnel records are sent to a central archiving facility. These facilities vary based on the date of the servicemember’s discharge and branch of service.
Veterans discharged to Massachusetts can contact the Military War Records Office of the Adjutant General in order to obtain their military records. Veterans can also visit their local Veterans’ Agent office or the central office of the Department of Veterans’ Services (600 Washington Street, Suite 1100 in Boston) to request a copy of their form DD-214. Local agents and DVS staff will access DD-214 forms online and print them for veterans who present positive photo ID.
Military War Records Office
50 Maple St.
Milford, MA 01757
Phone: (508) 233-7780
Fax: (508) 233-7785
Veterans living in another state at the time of discharge can obtain their records directly from the federal agency responsible for maintaining the records.
Most records can be obtained by submitting a completed Standard Form 180 (preferred) or by providing the information listed in the table, to the address listed for the agency in charge of maintaining the records. Veterans who plan to file a claim for medical benefits with the VA do not need to request a copy of their military health record from the National Personnel Records Center, unless the veteran wants a copy for his or her personal records. The original health records are provided directly to the VA after the veteran’s claim is filed. For more information about obtaining military records visit the NPRC website at: http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/.
Note: “Discharged” means a person with no current military status. A person released from active duty based on expiration of terms of service, generally is transferred into the inactive reserve. Most military service obligations are for 8 years. If it is less than 8 years from the date of enlistment, then the person is probably in the reserve.
VA facilities maintain records of all treatment received by veterans from facilities in the VA system. This information is shared electronically between VA facilities so most information created at one VA facility can be accessed from other VA facilities. Most VA medical facilities have a Release of Information Office where veterans can request a copy of their medical records in person for no charge.
Veterans can also obtain copies of VA medical records by mail. To request your own medical record from one of the VA medical facilities located in Massachusetts, complete a VA Form 10-5345a, Individuals’ Request for a Copy of Their Own Medical Record, and mail it to the facility where you received medical treatment. If you are a family member or advocate requesting records on behalf of a veteran, complete VA Form 10-5345, Request for and Authorization to Release Medical Records or Health Information, and submit it to the VA facility where the veteran was treated. The forms must be submitted with the veteran’s original signature or the request will not be processed. To obtain information about the facilities visit the Boston VA Healthcare System website at: http://www.boston.va.gov/patients/roi.asp.
Any veteran who has filed a claim for benefits will have a VA claims file containing records of all examinations, claims, treatment, decisions, and other documents relevant to the veteran’s claim. A veteran’s claims file is maintained at the VA Regional Office where the veteran filed his or her claim for benefits. A veteran is entitled to review the information contained in his or her claims file and to either make copies at the VA facility or request them by mail. The VA may charge a reasonable fee to provide a copy of the file.
It is generally easiest to review or obtain a copy of your claims file in person at the VA facility. You may wish to contact the VA to determine which regional office in your area has your claims file before traveling to the office itself. To request a copy of a VA claims file by mail, send a completed VA Form 3288, Request for and Consent to Release of Information from Individual’s Records, to the nearest VA Regional Office. To find the Regional Office nearest you, call 1-800-827-1000.
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides that any person has a right of access to Federal agency records, except to the extent that such records are protected from release by a FOIA exemption or a special law enforcement record exclusion. The most commonly requested VA materials are the VA’s Physicians’ Guide to Disability Evaluation Examinations and information regarding the 2006 Loss of Veterans Identity Information after the theft of a VA employee’s laptop. Many VA publications, directives, and other materials accessible via FOIA are already posted on the VA website. For more information on how to request VA records visit: http://www.foia.va.gov/FOIA_Request.asp.