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May 9, 2018

How to access Veterans’ health records

Last updated on December 22, 2022

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want to learn how to implement these strategies to get the VA benefits you deserve, click here to speak with a VA claim expert for free.

Veterans’ health records or, the Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), are the official records gathered from the Veterans’ military history and stored in the national archives. This includes health and administration records.

If you are unsure if your records have a file, you can contact the VA for further help.

Veterans who filed a medical claim should contact the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to determine if their record is already on file. The VA Toll-Free # is 1-800-827-1000 – it will connect the caller to the nearest VA office.” -VA archives website

To better understand how to request copies of your VA Medical records watch this video by Brian Reese.

As well as a tutorial on how to request copies of your Military Medical records.

Why you need your medical records

When you are preparing your claim, you need all of the information you can get to prove your case. This includes medical records which can establish the beginning of your symptoms.

The injury you are applying for must have a clear service connection, and the simplest way to do that is through medical records.

Health records contain outpatient, dental, and mental health treatment to a service member. As long as your files were stored correctly, you will be able to submit these records to help your case.

Who needs their medical records?

Anyone who is applying for a service-connected VA disability claim needs to be in the possession of their files to be able to submit them to the board of review.

Where to obtain your records?

Medical records are located at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). Each request for files must be in writing, signed, dated, and there is usually no cost

If you prefer to obtain your records in person, you may request an appointment with the Federal Records Center Research Room at 314-801-0775.

For every request you submit, you must fill out, sign, and date a new form.

As the NPRC files most clinical records and medical treatment records by the name of the last hospitalizing or treatment facility, requesters must provide the following information:

  1. Name and Location of the last hospitalizing (inpatient clinical records) or treatment facility(outpatient health records): usually this is the last facility at which treatment was provided.
  2. The Year of hospitalization or last treatment and the Type of treatment (inpatient, outpatient, dental, mental health, etc.). If you need copies of specific records, please be sure to state the type of illness, injury or treatment involved.
  3. The patient’s Full Name used during treatment.
  4. The patient’s Social Security Number and Status (specify: veteran, retiree, dependent of military, federal employee or other) during treatment.
  5. If the patient is/was a dependent: the Military Sponsor’s Name and the Sponsor’s Service Number and/or Social Security Number

Curtesy of national archives website.

Who can obtain Veterans’ health records?

For a deceased Veteran, their un-remarried widow or widower, son, daughter, father, father, mother, brother or sister are eligible to access their health records. 

In order to be granted access, the next of kin must provide death their certificate. The process can either be done online or by mailing a letter to: 

National Personnel Records Center

1 Archives Drive

St. Louis, MO 63138


If you decide to mail in the application, print out and send in this form. Through it, the VA will be able to gather all their necessary information needed to locate the records you need.

If you are not able to submit form SF-180, you will need to provide the VA with the following information:

  1. The veteran’s complete name used while in service
  2. Service number or social security number
  3. Branch of service
  4. Dates of service
  5. Date and place of birth may also be helpful, especially if the service number is not known
  6. If the request pertains to a record that may have been involved in the 1973 fire, also include:
    • Place of discharge
    • Last unit of assignment
    • Place of entry into the service, if known.


When filling out your request, make sure to add all the information you have onto the document. This will help your documents be returned promptly. Failing to do so will delay your response.

The exact timeline of when you will get a response depends on the kind of document you are requesting.

Most documents are returned within ten days. However, if further investigation is needed it could take up to six months

After ten days, you may begin checking your documents to view their status. To do this, you can visit the NPRC.

You will not be able to send another request for documents until 90 days after you first submit your document

If you still have questions or need further help, you can call to speak to a Customer Service Representative at 1-866-272-6272.

How to correct your service records

If you view your medical records and find that a mistake has been made, the request to fix the error must be made within three years of discovering the error.

If you need to fill out a change to your military service record, fill out and submit this form.

Include any evidence available when creating your request. Include signed witness statements, and arguments for the correction.

The NARA cannot make changes to your account without your permission. You must apply to the review board for any changes made.

If there is a change you need to make to your discharge status, follow and fill out this form.

After the request has been received, the corrections are reviewed through the correction board, and the final decision is made.

If the Veteran is not able to make changes to their record, the next of kin is eligible to make the changes for them.

If you have any other questions on how to collect these documents, please email us. We would be happy to help you get ahold of these important files to help win your claim.

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About the Author

About VA Claims Insider

VA Claims Insider is an education-based coaching/consulting company. We’re here for disabled veterans exploring eligibility for increased VA disability benefits and who wish to learn more about that process. We also connect veterans with independent medical professionals in our referral network for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible independent medical opinions and nexus statements (medical nexus letters) for a wide range of disability conditions.

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