Military Records: Methods to Obtain by general public
Methods to Obtain Military Records by the General Public
Many methods can be used to locate military records. Specific methods are available to veterans and their next of kin only, while others are for use by members of the general public. Moreover, the type of information that can be released to the general public is determined by the presence of or absence of the veteranís approval. Members of the general public may only request military records by mail or fax.
Members of the general public
First, letís clarify who is a member of the general public. Anyone who is not the veteran or the next of kin of the veteran is considered a member of the general public. Next of kin includes son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, unmarried widower, or unmarried widow. Anyone else is considered a member of the general public.
Requests made with the veteranís permission
In some cases, the veteranís permission to obtain his or her military records may be given to those who are not next of kin. This permission will allow the release of information that does not fall under the umbrella provided by the Freedom of Information Act. It is important to note that the authorization must be in writing, must specify exactly what additional information may be released, and must include the signature of the veteran or the veteranís next of kin.
Requests made without the veteranís permission
If the requestor does not have the veteranís permission to receive his or her records, the information sent will be limited, in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act. The Act allows specific information to be released to the general public without incurring an invasion of privacy. This information includes name, service number, dates of service, branch of service, rank and date of rank, assignments and geographic locations, military education, awards and decorations, duty status, photograph, transcripts of court-martial trial, place of entrance, and place of separation.
Although typically not included in the records, the Act allows for the following information to be available to the general public as well: salary, source of commission, and promotion sequence number. Additionally, the following information will be included if the veteran is deceased: place of birth, date of birth, geographical location of death, and place of burial.
Filing the request for military records
Although it is not required, filing a Standard Form 180, or SF-180, is the best avenue to take. The form is available at the following link: http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/standard-form-180.html#sf
Several methods are available for obtaining an SF-180 including:
1. Download a copy of the SF-180. You may select to fill the form in first (be sure to download a fillable form) or print the form out and fill it in completely. This is a three page form.
2. Contact The National Archives and Records Administration and order a faxed form.
3. Send a written request for a copy of SF_180 to the following address: The National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
4. Send a written request for a copy of SF-180 to the following address:
National Personnel Records Center
Military Personnel Records
9700 Page Avenue
St. Louis, Mo. 63132-5100
Additionally, you may be able to obtain a form by contacting your local Veteranís Administration office, the Department of Defense, Federal Information Centers, or veteranís service organizations. If you are not able to obtain a form, you may be able to receive military records by sending a written request to the National Personnel Records Center at the above address. Include the veteranís complete name while in the service, the branch of service, the dates of service, and the service number or social security number, if available.
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