In this post, we discuss service personnel records – what they are and how to obtain them.

What are Service Personnel Records?

Typically, once a service member is discharged, their service personnel records are compiled into an Official Military Personnel File (OMPF). This file encompasses a range of materials, such as job assignments, evaluations, orders, and records of awards and decorations. These records provide a detailed overview of a veteran’s service history, making them invaluable for various administrative and legal processes. For instance, the DD-214 (“Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty”), contains information about dates of service, military occupational specialty, and character of/reasons for discharge – some of which are needed to verify eligibility to VA disability compensation.

Note: Except for enlistment examination, separation examination, and Physical Evaluation Board reports, the OMPF rarely contains any service treatment records (STRs) from service. For more information on STRs, see our blog post here.

Location of Service Personnel Records

It’s important to note that records of veterans who retain some form of reserve status or those who served in the National Guard are not stored at the NPRC. Instead, these are accessible through the reserve headquarters of each respective service department or the Adjutant General’s office of the appropriate state.

How to Obtain Service Personnel Records

The process of obtaining these personnel records varies depending on the branch of service and the discharge date. Historically, after discharge, the OMPF, barring court-martial transcripts, was sent to the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri, for permanent storage. In more recent years, however, OMPF of discharged service member are digitized and stored at various. (You can view the location of your personnel records, based on your branch of service and discharge date, here.)

Detailed contact information for each branch and discharge period is available online through the National Archives.

For Discharged or Retired Veterans: The NPRC houses the records of veterans who are discharged or retired. You can request these records through the NPRC’s website or by submitting an SF-180. If you separated from service within the last 20 or so years, however, you may be able to access your and download records electronically through MilConnect.

For Reserve and National Guard Members: Active or inactive Reserve members should request their records through their respective service department’s reserve headquarters. National Guard members can access their records through the Adjutant General’s office in their state. It’s important to remember that complete military records for Reserve or National Guard members may be scattered across various locations due to multiple deployments.

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