Military veterans and the next of kin of deceased veterans can request personnel records, including separation documents, from the National Archives. Requests can be made by mail, fax or online using the eVetRecs system.
The National Personnel Records Center facility of the National Archives maintains personnel records for all branches of the armed forces. Records access is restricted to the personal use of veterans and their immediate family members for 62 years following discharge. Older records are open to the public and are subject to the procedures outlined in the Freedom of Information Act.
Requests for recent service records should include the service member's full name, service and Social Security numbers, branch of service, birth date, and place of birth. Information requests, even those submitted online, must be signed and dated by the veteran or next of kin.
Most responses are returned within 10 days, but some records require extensive searches or reconstruction that can take six months or longer. Emergency requests receive priority treatment and as of 2015, the NPRC has a goal of returning urgent document requests within two working days. Basic military personnel and medical information is available at no charge to veterans and their authorized representatives. The NPRC notifies requesters of any service fees.