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.
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. To find a VA facility, use the VA Facilities Locator & Directory. 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.
Records Related to Benefits Claims
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 (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.