How to Search Military Records

military personnel recordsThe Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Centralized Verification Service assists clients by providing them with military verification status documents.

Upon request for a search of an individual’s military status as of a specific date, SCRACVS performs this search and provides results, usually within 24 hours.

The purpose of this service is usually related a legal matter. According to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, a federal law, you cannot get a default judgment against a person on active military duty without a court order. The SCRACVS helps clients determine whether their customers or tenants are in the military, helping them comply with the law by taking the necessary steps in the legal process.

However, if you are simply searching for military personnel records, separation documents or medical records for a matter unrelated to a lawsuit, all these are available online for free.

Sources of Military Records

You can get historical records from the United States National Archives. Detailed military personnel records are available to:

  • Military veterans
  • The next of kin of a deceased former member of the military such as:
    • Surviving spouse that has not remarried
    • Father
    • Mother
    • Son
    • Daughter
    • Sister
    • Brother

This information can be obtained at the EVetsRecs system. However, you can also mail in a request using form 180.

Access to Military Personnel Files for the General Public

If you are not the veteran or a family member, some information is still available to you at the National Archives of St. Louis.

However, there is a big difference between the archived records and nonarchival federal military records. War records are transferred to the Archives 62 years after the termination of military duty.

For example, on Dec. 8, 2016, you could find archived records if the person left active service on or before Dec. 8, 1954. However, more recent records are in the Federal Records Center, subject to access restrictions. The archives’ website provides guidance on determining the difference between archived records and regular personnel records.

Other sources help you find where a servicemember is stationed or guide you in genealogical research.

The National Archives also maintains a treasure trove of specialized databases that list war records for:

  • World War II:
    • Army enlistment
    • Prisoners of war
  • Korean War:
    • Personnel who died as a result of hostilities
    • War dead and wounded (Army)
    • Repatriated Korean War prisoners of war
    • American prisoners of war during the Korean War
  • Vietnam War:
    • Military personnel who died, were MIA or POW
    • Awards and decorations of honor
    • Ground combat operations (Army)
    • Air sorties flown
    • Hostile fire against U.S. and Australian warships

Roy L. Kaufmann

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.