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Archives Not Destroying Military Personnel Files

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2004 – The National Archives and Records Administration is not destroying any military records, officials here said.

The agency is trying to counter an Internet rumor that advised veterans to apply for their Official Military Personnel Files to save them from destruction.

There is no truth to this "urban legend" being perpetuated on the Web. "We heard it about a month ago," said Susan Cooper, the archive's public affairs officer.

The records are stored at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. Officials there said that there has been an uptick in the number of veterans requesting their records. This takes time away from other legitimate requests such as veterans requesting separation documents or medical records.

"We have a limited number of people to do the work and anything that ramps the requests up this quickly is a big production issue with us," said John Constance, NARA's director of congressional and public affairs.

Archivists are digitizing some records, Cooper said. "We are going to digitize some of them for reference and preservation," she said. "When records are handled frequently, it causes some wear and tear. The idea is to preserve (the records), not destroy them." Officials emphasize that the paper records remain intact.

NARA preserves and protects the files because they are permanently valuable records that document the essential evidence of military service for veterans.

Bottom line: If you receive this sort of e-mail, ignore it. Your military records are safe.

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Related Sites:
National Archives and Records Administration
National Personnel Records Center


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