How to Find Family Members’ Military Service Records

Serving in the US military is a privilege, so it is no wonder that many families like to dig into the military past of their loved ones. Obtaining military records isn’t just a memento to be proud of. The service records of veterans can also be used to receive veterans benefits. If you’re searching for a family member’s official military personnel file, read our guide to find out how to get a copy.

Soldier having fun with his son at home

Understanding Military Service Records

There are different types of military records, which serve as proof that a person was in the US military. The most popular one is the DD214, which are discharge documents received by personnel who have rendered at least 90 days of consecutive service.

You can also get medical and health records to reflect your family member’s military past. Aside from medical records, you can prove someone was once part of the military through unit records, and awards and recognitions.

Gathering Basic Information For Military Records

Before you head to the National Archives for some assistance, you need to gather basic information to make your search easier. Here are some details you would need during your search:

  • Full Name and Nicknames 
  • Birthdate and Place 
  • Service Branch 
  • Approximate Dates of Service
Requesting Military Records

Starting with Public Resources

One of the most practical methods to obtain military service records is through public resources. Here are the most popular ones for your easy reference:

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) 

The majority of service records, medical and health records can be found at the National Archives and Records Administration. If you’re the next of kin of a veteran, you may request records yourself.

State Archives and Military Museums

If you know where the veteran’s recent military service station was, you can search that place’s State Archives. If your family member was part of an important battle, that service member will probably be featured in military museums.

Online Databases (Fold3, Ancestry.com, Military.com)

You can also request service records from online databases. Among the most popular options you can explore are Ancestry.com and Military.com.

Requesting Records from the National Archives and National Personnel Records Center

Standard Form-180

If you’re a veteran’s next of kin, you have the option to request records from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). There are various ways to send a request to the NPRC:

  • In-person visits. You may visit the NPRC office in St. Louis, Missouri if it’s accessible to you.
  • SF-180. You can accomplish a Standard Form-180 once you have basic information on the veteran. This form is used to request military records. You need to present additional information for emergency requests.
  • e-Vetrecs website. You can request an official military personnel file or DD214 from the e-Vetrecs website.
  • milConnect website. The milConnect website allows you to request military service records and DD214.

State-Level Resources 

If you’re aware of the state where that family member enlisted or discharged, you may check state-level resources. From state archives and libraries to state-specific databases, you can request records as long as you have all the required basic information.

Exploring Alternative Sources

The digital age has provided plenty of online resources to obtain military records and more. Here are some options that can aid your search for military records:

  • Military Reunions and Forums. There are plenty of military forums that can help you.  
  • Social Media and Online Communities. You can find your relative’s former colleagues through social media and online communities.
  • Veteran service organizations. If you know the veteran’s branch of service, you can seek help from veteran service organizations.
  • Hiring a professional researcher. If you have the resources, a researcher can obtain limited information about a veteran.
  • SCRA. We at SCRA can help you verify if that family member was once part of the US military.

Preserving and Sharing Family Military History

Once you’ve obtained that family’s military service records, you should preserve it online so the entire family can appreciate their legacy in the military. You can even explore creating a Family Military History Book. You can also honor them by sharing stories about their time in the Air Force or National Guard with the whole family.

Conclusion

Nowadays, it’s easier for family members to obtain medical records and military service records as long as they have proof they are a veteran’s next of kin. Your relative will surely appreciate that you’re honoring their legacy. Explore our website to learn more about military life and military verification.

FAQs

What are military service records?

These are administrative records that contain pertinent information about military personnel’s past. You can request this from the National Archives.

How do I find family members’ military service records?

You can explore various methods to obtain a family member’s military service records. These include contacting the NPRC, state archives, online databases, SCRA, and other online resources.

How do I find military pictures of family members?

A veteran’s military records usually include a photo of them. You can get a copy for free as long as you’re their next of kin.

Attorney Roy Kaufmann serves as the Director of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Centralized Verification Service, located in Washington, D.C. As a recognized authority on the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Mr. Kaufmann has published hundreds of articles and hosted many webinars. His teachings help law firms and businesses to remain compliant with the SCRA rules and regulations so as to avoid costly fines.