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My military records are gone—what now?

On Behalf of | Jul 19, 2022 | VA Benefits

In 1973, the Military Personnel Records Center in Overland, Missouri caught fire, leading to the destruction of 16-18 million service member records.

As result, many former service members have difficulty applying for Veterans Disability Benefits. Unfortunately, there are zero remaining copies of the destroyed files and VA representatives are often unable to help affected vets gain access to their entitlements.

Destroyed archives

Affected military service records fall into the following categories:

  • Airmen discharged from the Air Force between September 25, 1947 and January 1, 1964. The fire destroyed 75 percent of these records from the last name “Hubbard” to the end of the alphabet.
  • Soldiers discharged from the Army between November 1, 1912 and January 1, 1960. The fire ruined 80 percent of the records in this category.

Reconstructing military records

If you or your loved one lost your service records in this archives fire or another incident, you may still qualify for your VA benefits. The process for proving your claim may be harder, but it is possible. As part of the records reconstruction method, you will need to provide as much information as possible including:

  • Unit/wing/battalion information
  • Assignment details for your period of service
  • Medical reports or treatment records
  • Buddy statements from fellow service members
  • Photographs from your time in the military

If the VA denies your disability claim because they cannot find your records, you do not have to take no for an answer. The process is often frustrating and the VA can be uncooperative, but you deserve the benefits you earned.