Pandemic Impact on the National Archive’s St. Louis Military Records Facility
If you want copies of a relative’s U.S. military records, you may have to wait a while. The National Personnel Records Center has been closed and is only completing emergency requests because of the pandemic.
Genealogists know the National Personnel Records Center as a source of records (despite a major fire some years ago) of the U.S. military records of ancestors and other relatives. However, the same center also supplies copies of records to living people and to the families of recently deceased veterans who are seeking reference information for pension applications, disability claims, medical benefits, burials, and much more.
The number of requests for records is growing, creating a massive backlog at the National Personnel Records Center. “Nationally, to think there are some 500,000 and growing veterans that are waiting to and trying to get the documentation, it’s not ok,” Missouri Congresswoman Ann Wagner said. “It’s not how we should be treating those who have sacrificed so much or our country.”
The hundreds of workers in charge of those files have been off the job for months. Now a letter by congress is pressing to change that.
“What we have asked the archivist of the U.S and the Biden Administration is to come up with a plan so that they can open up safely,” Wagner said. “That means increasing vaccines, working overtime. We have put money toward this.”
Wagner and 200 other members of Congress signed the letter that calls for the center to operate at maximum capacity. But according the NPRC website, as of now only 20% of its workforce is back on the job.
The National Personnel Records Center web site at https://www.archives.gov/personnel-records-center states:
Phased Expansion of Onsite Workforce at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) is Underway
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NPRC has been closed and only completing emergency requests. As of March 8, 2021, the NPRC entered into a phased expansion of our onsite workforce. While we continue to increase our on-site staffing, we are still servicing requests associated with medical treatments, burials, and homeless veterans seeking admittance to a homeless shelter. Please refrain from submitting non-emergency requests such as replacement medals, administrative corrections, or records research until we return to pre-COVID staffing levels.
More information on NPRC’s operating status
Alternative sources for modern military records
More information about the National Archives’ response to coronavirus can be found at archives.gov/coronavirus.