How to Search Military Records

If you want to find military records, there are several ways in which you can do so. Keep in mind that limited military records are available to the public, so specific veteran records will only be released to the veteran or their next of kin.

EditIn a Hurry?

If you’re looking for general military information, such as casualties of war, you can use an online site to find military records. For more specific information, like a personnel file for a U.S. veteran, you can request the records from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Provide the veteran’s full name, date and place of birth, service number, social security number, branch of service, and dates of service. To learn how to request these records, read on!

EditSteps

EditFinding Records

  1. Use an online site to find general information. If you’re looking for the casualties of a specific war or want to find out if a specific person served in the military, you can likely find this information online. Do an online search for military records to find applicable websites.
    Search Military Records Step 1.jpg
  2. Gather the veteran’s personal information if you need specific records. To access a specific veteran’s records, you’ll need to know their:[1]
    Search Military Records Step 2.jpg
    • Full name
    • Date and place of birth
    • Service number
    • Social security number
    • Branch of service
    • Dates of service
  3. Request specific records through the National Personnel Records Center. If you want to view the records for a specific military veteran, you can submit a request to the National Personnel Records Center. They will provide you with copies of the personnel records for the veteran in question.[2]
    Search Military Records Step 3.jpg
    • Depending on your relation to the veteran, you can either send the request online, via fax, or by mail.
  4. Expect to receive limited information if you are not the next of kin. If you are not the spouse, parent, child, or sibling of the veteran in question, you will not be able to access their full military record. Instead, you will only be provided with basic information, such as the veteran’s name, assignments, and service awards.[3]
    Search Military Records Step 4.jpg

EditRequesting Records

  1. Order the records online if you are the veteran or next of kin. If you are a military veteran who wants your own records, or if you are related to the person whose records you want to view, you can do so online using the eVetRecs system.[4]
    Search Military Records Step 5.jpg
  2. Fill out Standard Form 180 if you are not the veteran or next of kin. If you want records for a person that you are not related to, you’ll need to fill out Standard Form 180 and submit it to the National Personnel Records Center.[5]
    Search Military Records Step 6.jpg
  3. Write a letter to request the records if you prefer. If you can’t or don’t want to access Standard Form 180, you can write a letter requesting the records. Include your name, your relation to the veteran (if any), and the reason you are requesting the records. Provide the veteran’s full name, date and place of birth, service number, social security number, branch of service, and dates of service. Fax the letter to 314-801-9195 or send it to:[6]
    Search Military Records Step 7.jpg
    • National Personnel Records Center
      1 Archives Drive
      St. Louis, MO 63138
  4. Visit the National Archives if you want to view the original record. If you want to see an original record instead of receiving copies, you can visit the National Archives in the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. You must schedule an appointment for the specific research room in which the records are located.[7]
    Search Military Records Step 8.jpg
    • If the records are from before 1956, call 314-801-0850 to schedule an appointment.[8]
    • If the records are from after 1956, call 314-801-0775 to schedule an appointment.[9]
  5. Pay a fee for archival records. Generally, you won’t have to pay to access military records, especially if you are the veteran or next of kin. However, if the records you want to view are from 1956 or earlier, you will have to pay a fee to obtain copies of them.[10]
    Search Military Records Step 9.jpg
    • The fee for 5 pages or less is $25. The fee for more than 5 pages is $70.
  6. Expect the receive the records within 6 months. In many cases, the National Personnel Records Center can respond to a request for separation records within 10 days. If you haven’t heard back after 90 days, you can send a follow-up request. Keep in mind that some requests, such as those for archived records, can take up to 6 months to complete.[11]
    Search Military Records Step 10.jpg

EditSources and Citations

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