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How Do Veterans Obtain Their Service Treatment Records?

Regardless of whether you plan to file for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, accessing your medical records as a veteran is crucial for ensuring continuity of care, understanding your health history, and applying for medical benefits. But, obtaining those records can seem daunting. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the steps involved in obtaining your official military and VA records and address common questions such as, “How do I get my official military records?” and, “How long does it take to get veterans records?” 


What’s included in the Service Treatment Records? 

Service Treatment Records include records generated during military service, including during outpatient procedures, dental care, mental health treatment induction and separation examinations, routine medical care, and more.   

Note that clinical records from hospitalizations typically are not filed with health records but may be retired to the national records center separately.  


How to obtain your service records  

The exact location of all service records depends on many factors, such as the time frame of service and whether the veteran was an officer or enlisted.  In most cases, the Official Military Personnel Files housed at the National Personnel Records Center contain essential information about your military service history.  If a veteran left service over 62 years ago, then their records are open to the public.  Otherwise, the records are protected by the Freedom of Information Act.  

To obtain your medical records, submit a request through the appropriate channels. While the process may vary slightly depending on your branch of service and the timeframe of your service, it typically involves mailing or faxing a signed and dated request to the NPRC and  


The following is the NPRC’s contact information:  


NPRC Fax Number: 314-801-9195  

NPRC Mailing Address:  

National Personnel Records Center  

Military Personnel Records  

1 Archives Drive  

St. Louis, MO 63138  


NPRC Phone: 314-801-0800*  

*The peak calling times are weekdays between 11 a.m. ET and 4 p.m. ET. Staff is available to take your call as early as 8 a.m. ET and as late as 6 p.m. ET.  


How to obtain your VA records  

Although obtaining your military records is important, so too is obtaining your VA records—both medical and procedural (or, case-related).  You will want to confirm that the VA examiners have properly detailed your case, that you are receiving all correspondence from the VA, and you know the status of any pending claims.  

To obtain your VA records, you can either request one record or your entire “claims file,” also known as a “c-file.”  This c-file will include all of your records in the VA electronic system.  To obtain either, you must submit a request to the VA, which can be done using VA Form 3288, Request for and Consent to Release of Information from Individual Records, at a VA Regional Office or online.  

Obtaining your c-file may take months, so it is important to check in with the VA periodically if you don’t receive it.  If the VA fails to send the c-file after a significant amount of time, you can submit or email a FOIA request.  When you do receive your c-file, it will be on a CD and is often hundreds or thousands of pages long.  


How long does it take?   

The timeframe for receiving your medical records can vary based on factors such as the branch of service, the complexity of your request, and current processing times. The NPRC receives 4,000-5,000 requests per day; thus, it may take several weeks to several months to receive your records. However, expedited processing options may be available for certain urgent situations.  If you have not received a response within 90 days, you may want to follow up.  

Accessing your military medical records is an essential step in managing your health as a veteran. By understanding the process and knowing where to submit your request, you can ensure timely access to the information you need. If you’re unsure about navigating the process, consider reaching out to Vets National for assistance. Our dedicated team is here to support you in obtaining your medical records and accessing the benefits you deserve.  

Contact Vets National today, at 877-777-4021, to learn how we can assist you on your journey. Your health and well-being are our top priorities, and we’re here to help every step of the way.   

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