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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs


Secretary Signs Agreement to Fix Backlog of Record Requests

Nov. 7, 2001, 08:00:00 AM

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WASHINGTON – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi today announced an agreement between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) that is intended to reduce the pending backlog of more than 57,000 veterans' military records requested by VA.

"The president gave me a clear mandate to bring the unacceptably large number of claims in VA's compensation and pension programs to a fair and speedy resolution," said Principi.  "To meet this mandate, VA needs the assistance and cooperation of NARA to obtain veterans' records in a timely and expeditious manner."

To provide benefits and services to veterans and their families, VA must determine whether those applying are eligible under the law.  VA proves eligibility by obtaining a veteran's official military records such as their discharge documents and medical files.  

NARA is the official repository for records of military personnel separated from the United States Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy.  The records are housed in the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Mo.

The "memorandum of agreement" between VA and NARA details how the two agencies will work together to significantly reduce the time to retrieve official military personnel folders, extract military service information, and furnish this information to VA.  NARA's task is to provide a one-day turnaround for high priority requests and a less than five-day turnaround on routine requests.

VA expects that within one year the backlog of pending requests at NPRC will be eliminated.  This will help facilitate timely decisions on all veterans' claims.  Currently, VA has a national inventory of more than 668,000 compensation and pension claims pending.  Of these claims, 53,000 have been awaiting a decision for more than one year.

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