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In-person request and retrieval for military records?


Rivet62

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Going on 4 months now, waiting for military service records and military in-service medical records. Not me, but two vets I know.  Out of sheer desperation (knowing it's a no) I wonder if anyone has obtained these records in person?  Like, can you go in person to see these records and/or have them printed out so you can walk out with them?  At this point it's worth the drive. 

I know the idea is ridiculous because just locating the records out of boxes somewhere probably takes a lot of time.

 

 

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No, because depending on when you separated your personnel file and medical records are stored in separate places, and not always together-they aren't just sitting in the RO somewhere. 20+ yrs ago, sure, but not now. Now they are housed in the national archives and scanned and sent to us when we request them.

You can get your personnel records anytime electronically through milconnect  https://milconnect.dmdc.osd.mil/milconnect/public/faq/Documentation-DPRIS/PaperDocs

Your STRs are stored at NPRC which has several locations, and all operating at various levels of opening or staffing depending on their local conditions. We have to wait months for them, too. I started in March 2020 at VA and there are a few veterans that have come back across my desk that I can't work on because of waiting for personnel records to help verify stressors and/or duty locations- and in some cases for me its been almost a year or more that ive seen them come back around. https://www.archives.gov/veterans

Now, this is only for records that are not already in your Cfile. If you've filed claims in the past then they have already been pulled in, probably multiple times (in the case of troops that start the process before they outprocess I usually end up with two or three versions of their personnel file because their service keeps adding to it, sometimes even after they have already gone through the gate). For whatever reason Janesville takes forever to do Cfiles, I don't know why. Your existing stuff that has already been pulled into your Efolder is processed there. 

You can get VAMC records through MyHealthVet and download to your heart's content, though it only goes back 3-4 yrs, maybe, and is only for VAMC treatment, not service stuff. 

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VSO's and POA's have access to VBMS and can see what's in there, but they aren't going to spend hours plumbing your Cfile for scanned PDF's. They can't keep up with the hundreds of cases at a time that they have. If you know exactly what you want then some might try to find it for you, but its up to the individual VSO or POA. A lawyer is going to take a lot more time in discovery (you'd think) but honestly a lot of them pawn it off on us by sending threatening legalese letters demanding that we drop everything and look for that "1" document (that they can't describe, either, because many of them aren't vets and have no idea what you are looking for either). 

They aren't all neatly housed in file folder by what they are because the scanning system for intake can only go by form numbers that it can read, or descriptions from official record sources like NPRC or one of the services. Thus, your Cfile is a jumbled mess of things submitted by you, automatically generated (letters, decisions), Service stuff, returned documents from private doctors fulfilling scanned document requests, etc. A Cfile maybe 50 or 100 links on a page, each link representing 1 page or hundreds depending on what was uploaded and if it was a batch or individual pages, with multiple pages of links that encompass the entire file. The more claims a veteran files, the more stuff is in there, some of the duplication of things like notification letters is required by law. Appeals, remands, POA documents, IRIS/Phone notes, all of it- is in there. 

 

 

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21 minutes ago, brokensoldier244th said:

No, because depending on when you separated your personnel file and medical records are stored in separate places, and not always together-they aren't just sitting in the RO somewhere. 20+ yrs ago, sure, but not now.

I wanted to add, that back in 2014 when I requested my records I checked all the boxes and they sent me the generalized info in about a couple weeks. I requested the in-depth record and it took 5 - 6 weeks at the most.  I discharged in 1981, so it was just paper. Times have changed. I feel sorry for the vets circling back after a year for more records. Wow! 😭

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6 minutes ago, brokensoldier244th said:

VSO's and POA's have access to VBMS and can see what's in there, but they aren't going to spend hours plumbing your Cfile for scanned PDF's. They can't keep up with the hundreds of cases at a time that they have.

Yes. I have realized that now.

7 minutes ago, brokensoldier244th said:

A lawyer is going to take a lot more time in discovery (you'd think) but honestly a lot of them pawn it off on us by sending threatening legalese letters demanding that we drop everything and look for that "1" document (that they can't describe, either, because many of them aren't vets and have no idea what you are looking for either). 

LMAO...and gets them nowhere. They don't understand what you're dealing with...lol.

9 minutes ago, brokensoldier244th said:

Thus, your Cfile is a jumbled mess of things submitted by you, automatically generated (letters, decisions), Service stuff, returned documents from private doctors fulfilling scanned document requests, etc. A Cfile maybe 50 or 100 links on a page, each link representing 1 page or hundreds depending on what was uploaded and if it was a batch or individual pages, with multiple pages of links that encompass the entire file. The more claims a veteran files, the more stuff is in there, some of the duplication of things like notification letters is required by law. Appeals, remands, POA documents, IRIS/Phone notes, all of it- is in there. 

I might be better off not knowing what's in there and do what my psychiatrist suggests. Just live a happy life and find things I enjoy, because that sounds like a mess...lol.

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1 minute ago, Rivet62 said:

Yes. I have realized that now.

LMAO...and gets them nowhere. They don't understand what you're dealing with...lol.

I might be better off not knowing what's in there and do what my psychiatrist suggests. Just live a happy life and find things I enjoy, because that sounds like a mess...lol.

It is a mess. There is a reason that a VSR does one of a few things- doesn't make it past the first year (3-4 months training, a month or 3 of handholding, then off to the races), promotes out of it to something else on another path like supervisory or trainer or sometimes to a different federal agency, or gets carried out on a stretcher after 15 or 20 yrs (figuratively- they retire just like everyone else). Ive been here almost 2 yrs- I haven't decided which direction im in, since I have IT training, and also an Ed degree. I could pivot within VA in a few directions I just haven't been here long enough to get quite to that point. Most of those beginning opportunities start opening up around GS10 which won't happen for a few months. 

 

There is a also a reason that there is an Employee Assistance Program with MH people available, too. I work in MST claims exclusively. We have access to a phone number to call 24 hrs a day thats independent of the crisis line (unless its that bad) but also independent of management. VSRs in general can call EAP for guidance to services for helping to process some of the stress that some people develop. Plus, there are many of us that are veterans and we have our own issues that are baggage also. 

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