How Do You Search for Military Records?


Quick Answer

An overview of military records is included in a service person's military personnel file, which can be requested from the applicable record center by filling out a Standard Form 180, and mailing or faxing it to the National Personnel Records Center. Military records dating back to the Revolutionary War are held at two national archive centers in the United States.

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Full Answer

Records from 1912 and prior are kept at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., and records later are kept at the National Military Personnel Records Center, in St. Louis, Missouri.

All information in the file is available to veterans and their next of kin, but there are restrictions on what information can be obtained by members of the general public about still-living veterans. Information generally contained in the personnel file includes roll call cards, pay information, records of wounds and hospitalization, court-martial, medals earned, and death certificates.

Military records from prior to World War II were not maintained in a uniform way across branches of service. Some records are stored on microfiche, while others, as of 2015, are still kept in paper files. The National Personnel Records Center and National Archives maintain catalogues to help interested parties find the exact records they are searching for without difficulty.

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