National Archives at St. Louis

Access to Clinical and Medical Treatment Records by the General Public

If you ARE the Veteran, Next-of-Kin, or Person of Record see Access to Clinical and Medical Treatment Records by the Veteran, Next-of-Kin, or Person of Record

Access to Records, Information for the General Public:

Without the consent of the veteran, next-of-kin or person of record, the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) can only release limited information to the general public. You are considered a member of the general public if you are not the veteran (or person of record), asking about a veteran who is of no relation to you or seeking information about a veteran who is a relative but for whom you are not the next-of-kin. The next-of-kin is defined as any of the following: the un-remarried widow or widower, son, daughter, father, mother, brother or sister of the deceased veteran.

Such access is intended to strike a balance between the public's right to obtain information from Federal records, as outlined in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and the veteran's right to privacy as defined by the Privacy Act. Information will not be released if requested for unethical purposes.


What Information is Releasable to the General Public?

The type of information releasable to the general public is dependent upon whether or not a person is requesting information under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or has access authorization from the person of record (veteran, retiree, dependent of military or other).

With the Veteran or Person of Record's Authorization:
The veteran, or person of record, must authorize the release of any information not available to the public under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In some cases, the veteran may already possess military documents that contain the information you are seeking. The authorization must:

  1. be in writing;

  2. specify what additional information or copies that the NPRC may release to you; and

  3. include the signature of the veteran or person of record. A sample authorization is included for your review.

Please note: next-of-kin must also provide proof of death of the veteran, such as a copy of the death certificate, a letter from the funeral home or a published obituary.

Without the Veteran or Person of Record's Authorization:
Without the consent of the veteran, or person of record, the NPRC can only release limited information from personnel files to the general public. Click here for a list of information available under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.


How Do I Request Copies of Records

Federal law [5 USC 552a(b)] requires that all requests for records and information be submitted in writing. Each request must be signed (in cursive) and dated (within the last year). Requests for certain types of restricted records require specific authorization from the veteran or person of record. You will be notified if this type of authorization is required and may receive NA Form 13036, Authorization for Release of Military Medical Patient Records.

As the NPRC files most clinical records and medical treatment records by the name of the last hospitalizing or treatment facility, requesters must provide the following information:

  1. Name and Location of the last hospitalizing (inpatient clinical records) or treatment facility (outpatient health records): usually this is the last facility at which treatment was provided.

  2. The Year of hospitalization or last treatment and the Type of treatment (inpatient, outpatient, dental, mental health, etc.). If you need copies of specific records, please be sure to state the type of illness, injury or treatment involved.

  3. The patient's Full Name used during treatment

  4. The patient's Social Security Number and Status (specify: veteran, retiree, dependent of military, federal employee or other) during treatment.

  5. If the patient is/was a dependent: the Military Sponsor's Name and the Sponsor's Service Number and/or Social Security Number.

To request clinical and medical treatment records:

When sending a request via postal mail or fax, please use the Standard Form (SF) 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records. Although not mandatory, using the SF-180 is the recommended method to send a request for military service information. This form captures all the necessary information to locate a record. Provide as much information on the form as possible and send copies of any service documents that you may have.

Follow the instructions for preparing the SF-180. Check the Records Location Table and submit your request to the appropriate address.

Costs: The NPRC processes most requests for limited information without cost. However, it is possible that a fee may be charged if the researching, processing and photocopying becomes excessive. If your request involves a service fee, you will be notified as soon as that determination is made. However, the NARA fee schedule authorizes the Agency to collect fees from the public for copies of archival records (44 USC 2116c and 44 USC 2307). See Archival Records for information on archival holdings and associated copy fees.

Those who have authorization from the veteran (or person of record) or the veteran's next-of-kin may request an appointment with the Federal Records Center Research Room to view the records in person.


Response Time and Checking the Status of a Request:

Response time varies and is dependent upon the complexity of your request, the availability of records and our workload. Please do not send a follow-up request before 90 days have elapsed, as it may cause further delays. While the NPRC works actively to respond to each request in a timely fashion, the Center receives approximately 4,000 - 5,000 requests per day. We are responding to requests for separation documents within 10 days about 92% of the time. However, requests that involve reconstruction efforts due to the 1973 Fire, or older records which require extensive search efforts, may take 6 months or more to complete.

Checking the Status of Your Request by E-mail: Once you have allowed sufficient time for us to receive and process your request (about 10 days), you may check the status of your request by e-mail through our NPRC Customer Service Center at mpr.status@nara.gov. Please provide the request number if you have one, the name, address and phone number of the requester and the veteran's branch of service to aid us in finding your request in our system. You will receive a return e-mail from us with a projected completion date for your request.

Special Note on Calling by Phone: If you have already submitted a request and need to know its status you may speak to a Customer Service Representative. Staff is available to take your call as early as 7:00 am CST and as late as 5:00 pm CST. Our peak calling times are weekdays between 10:00 am CST and 3:00 pm CST:

Telephone: 314-801-0800
Telephone (Toll Free) 1-866-272-6272

Special Note on Contacting by E-mail: Requests for military personnel records or information from them cannot be accepted by e-mail at this time. The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. 552a) and Department of Defense directives require a written request, signed and dated, to access information from military personnel records. Our e-mail address should only be used to request general information (hours of operations, procedures and forms) or to submit compliments, complaints or concerns.

Please review these web pages for information before contacting us.

NOTE: If you send messages using WebTV or a free e-mail service, you will not receive our response if your mailbox is full. Messages sent to full mailboxes are returned to us as "undeliverable." You may wish to include your mailing address in your message so that we may respond via the U.S. Postal Service.

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The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
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