Representatives Jimmy Panetta and Van Taylor Lead Bipartisan Effort Urging NPRC to Resume Processing Military Personnel Records

November 24, 2020
Press Release
233 Members Send Bipartisan Letter Highlighting Dire Need

SALINAS, CA - Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) and Congressman Van Taylor (TX-03) led 233 of their colleagues in sending a letter urging the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) to address the growing backlog of requests due to the closure of its facility during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The letter requests the agency to implement new policies to resume processing military personnel, health, and medical records requests while maintaining the health and safety of NPRC employees.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, NPRC reduced on site operations on March 23, 2020, only processing “emergency requests” and remains in the current status with no definitive timeline for addressing the backlog or improving processing times. Personnel records are needed for veterans, military, civil service retirees, and their dependents to qualify for a range of benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense.

“In dealing with this pandemic, we've learned that we must adapt, adjust, and continue to go forward. The NPRC must do the same to ensure that our servicemembers receive the proper support they deserve when it comes to obtaining their personnel records,” said Congressman Panetta. “Now more than ever, our federal government needs to work for the people of this nation. We’ll continue to work with the NPRC so that it too continues to serve those who serve our nation.”

Congressman Van Taylor said, "The COVID-19 pandemic has presented significant challenges for every facet of life, however, just as families and businesses across the country have worked to overcome these challenges, our federal agencies must adapt to continue serving the American people.” He continued, “The failure of NPRC to process military personal records has impacted our veterans and their families, who require these records to qualify for a range of benefits. Our Veterans have made countless sacrifices and we owe it to them to process these important requests in a timely manner.”

The letter was signed by 233 Members of Congress, including 122 Democrats and 111 Republicans. Read the full text of the letter below:

 

Director Levins,

We write to voice our growing concern with the rising number of unprocessed requests for military personnel, health, and medical records from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) amidst the current pandemic. Except for a limited number of emergency requests, since March of this year, our constituents’ requests for military personnel records from NPRC have largely been unfulfilled. Moreover, there remains no definitive timeline in which our constituent veterans can expect to have their requests processed. As you know, personnel records are needed for veterans and their dependents to qualify for a range of benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a significant challenge for all Americans and the Federal agencies who serve them, and efforts to protect workforce health and safety are absolutely of top importance. However, as more time continues to elapse, these delays are causing significant anxiety and hardship for many of our nation’s veterans.

It’s for that reason we write to strongly encourage you to work to implement new policies and procedures that can both protect the NPRC’s workforce and ensure our nation’s veterans are getting the records they need and deserve in a timely fashion. We also ask that you provide our offices with a working plan including a timeline for how your agency intends to address the growing backlog of military personnel records requests. As many of our constituents have already been waiting for months to obtain their records, providing a plan and a timeline would offer a needed level of certainty in these difficult and uncertain times.

The NPRC serves as an important cornerstone in our nation’s system to provide and care for veterans, but without your agency’s needed services many of those who have worn the uniform are experiencing significant claims processing delays. We ask for your committed leadership to overcome these challenges and to assist in providing veterans with the records needed to pursue their earned benefits. As Members of Congress we stand ready to assist in these efforts.

Sincerely,

 

Members of Congress

Issues: