Unfortunately, the VA’s system for organizing medical records is not foolproof. Each year, hundreds of Veterans applying for disability are told their service-related medical records can’t be located, and their applications are stuck in limbo. Some of these records were lost during a VA warehouse fire in St. Louis in 1973, but others are missing due to simple clerical errors.
If you’ve been told that your medical records can’t be located, don’t give up. The VA has a legal obligation to continue to try to locate your records every two months. Records that aren’t found on the first attempt may be located at a later date.
Providing as many details as possible can aid the VA in the search for your records. This includes dates, locations, the name of your commanding officer, the unit you served in, and the specific individuals you served with.
The Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) contain both personnel and former active duty health records for Veterans who served before the 1990s. The service branches started discontinuing the health record portion to the NPRC in 1992. Records for Veterans who served more recently are typically located at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Records Management Center (RMC).
Use Alternative Evidence
If your records are not located after several attempts, alternative evidence may be available to support your claim. This could include personal journals, photos of injuries, letters to friends and family, or statements from those who witnessed the incident in question. Statements from people you served with are sometimes referred to as “buddy statements” by the VA.
Take Legal Action
A Veterans benefits attorney can assist you in locating records if you believe the VA is stalling or hiding information. At the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, we are committed to helping Veterans who’ve bravely served our country receive the full benefits to which they are entitled. Call our office or fill out the contact form on this page to learn how we can help with your claim.