How to Find My Fathers Military Record

by Jayne Thompson

Military records can provide information on your father's war time duties.

George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images

A former service member's complete service record is available to the veteran or, if deceased, to his next of kin. The National Personnel Records Center is the central repository of over 100 million military records and handles more than 1.4 million information requests each year. Complete a records request online, or find your father's military records by sending Standard Form 180 to the NPRC.

Tips

  • The U.S. National Archives has detailed instructions on how to look up military service records if you are the veteran's next of kin.

Who Can Apply

Military veterans can apply for their own service records. If your father is deceased, then you can apply for his records if you are his immediate next of kin. Whatever method you use to apply, you'll need to provide proof of death such as a copy of the death certificate, published obituary or letter from the funeral home. There is no charge for basic military personnel information provided to veterans and next-of-kin.

Apply Online Using eVetRecs

The National Archives' online eVetRecs program is the fastest method for requesting service information. Simply click the eVetRecs link on the National Archive's website and provide the required information, including:

  • The veteran's name 
  • Branch of service
  • Service number
  • Social Security number
  • Date and place of birth
  • Approximate date the veteran left the service
  • The reason for your request, such as applying for or researching your father's military history.

Federal law requires a signature on all record requests. After completing the request, print out and sign the verification and mail this to NPRC.

Apply by Mail

Download and fill out a request on Standard Form 180 or request a copy from either the Department of Defense or your local Veterans Administration office. The NPRC needs certain information to find military records, which is essentially the same information requested in the online application. Sign and date the form and mail it to National Personnel Records Center, 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO 63138.

Public Records

Members of the public may access only limited records, which avoids unwarranted invasion of privacy. Available information includes the veteran's service number, dates of service, final rank, military education level and, if deceased, the date and location of death. Different rules apply to discharge dates more than 62 years ago. These records are fully open to members of the public. Public requests must be made by mail using Standard Form 180. There's a $70 charge for routine archive requests of six pages or more.

Be Patient

It can take several months for your request to be processed. The agency will prioritize urgent requests; the eVetRecs website has instructions for emergency requests that need faster processing. Once you have allowed sufficient time for your application to be processed, which the NPRC says is around 10 days, you can check its status by using the online status update request form or by telephoning the NPRC customer service line at 314-801-0800.

Photo Credits

  • George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images

About the Author

A former real estate lawyer, Jayne Thompson writes about law, business and corporate communications, drawing on 17 years’ experience in the legal sector. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Birmingham and a Masters in International Law from the University of East London.