Bost seeks end to veterans records request backlog

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL) recently expressed his ongoing concern with the records request backlog at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), which serves as the repository for millions of military personnel, health and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans in all branches of the United States Armed Services.

“Veterans need answers,” said Rep. Bost, ranking member of the U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “The NPRC serves a vital function. Congress has provided the resources the NPRC needs to safely resume normal operations. It is unacceptable that we continue to receive mixed messages about when veterans will have timely access to their records.”

Veterans and their families may need access to these records to provide evidence that could substantiate a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) claim or overturn a prior decision on VA benefits and services, apply for state benefits, or update their medical history, among other actions, according to a May 6 letter Rep. Bost and more than two dozen of his colleagues sent to David Ferriero, Archivist of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

“The backlog of requests raises concerns about the government’s ability to care for those who honorably served in a timely manner,” wrote Rep. Bost and the 28 other lawmakers, noting that the NARA reported in March that there was a backlog of almost 500,000 records requests at the NRPC.

The records that veterans are unable to obtain may impact access to benefit payments, veterans’ facilities and homeless shelters, and burials in veterans’ cemeteries, among others, according to their letter. 

“Some families of veterans have waited weeks to bury their loved ones and elderly dependents have waited long periods of time to receive a decision on their claim for VA Aid and Attendance benefits,” Rep. Bost and his colleagues wrote.

In order to better understand what steps NARA is taking to ensure all veterans and their families have the ability to obtain such information, Rep. Bost and the lawmakers requested that Ferriero brief them on his plan to remediate the backlog and address their questions.