To the Editor: Veterans urged to get proof of service
Written by Dick Conrad   
Thursday, 26 December 2013 09:24
During the past couple of months, I have participated in at least two funerals for military veterans where the family could not find any proof of service for the deceased. For the military services (Army, Marine Corps, Navy) to participate in a funeral, proof of service is required. Also, proof of military service is required for you or your family to gain access to any of the benefits provided by the government for living or deceased veterans. The Wood County Honor Guard will provide a military funeral so long as it is known that the deceased was in the service.
If a military veteran cannot find their DD-214 or other proof of military service, I would encourage you to contact your local veterans service officer, or contact the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri (314-801-0800). There is a form SF-180 that typically needs to be completed with as much information as you can provide. SF-180 form is available online or you can call NPRC. There is generally no charge for basic military personnel and medical records provided to veterans.
Records requests often take 4-6 weeks, but if your request is urgent (e.g. surgery, funeral, etc.) and there is a deadline associated with your request, they will try to complete all urgent requests within two working days. In case of death, your funeral director should be able to help you obtain this document.
On July 12, 1973, a disastrous fire was reported at the NPRC. Sixteen to 18 million Official Military Personnel Files were destroyed. No duplicate copies of these records were maintained. Eighty percent of the Army records from 1912 to 1960 and 75 percent of Air Force records from 1947 to 1964 were destroyed.
However, in the years following the fire, the NPRC has collected records that are used to reconstruct basic service information. I have helped numerous veterans obtain proof of military service, including WWII Army veterans.
Where the original records did not exist, I have been able to get certified documents giving dates of service, rank, etc. from NPRC.
In summary, if you do not have a copy of your DD-214 or other proof of military service, get a copy now. If you do have proof, put a copy with your will or other important papers and make sure your family knows where these papers are located.
Dick Conrad
Bowling Green

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