WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ore., Congressman Fred Keller and House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Mike Bost led a letter this week to the National Archives and Records Administration demanding that the National Personnel Records Center fully reopen.
In a news release, they said this in response to the agency’s recent decision to decrease capacity to 25%, which they say will further exacerbate veterans’ inability to access critical benefits.
“The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) has not maintained full capacity, in-person, employment since March 2020. Since then, many Veterans in Oregon and across the nation have not received records they need to demonstrate their military service and verify their service-connected conditions. As a result, these individuals cannot receive the medical care, disability compensation, and retirement pay they have earned. In some instances, the NPRC is the only agency that can provide Veterans with these records. It’s time for the NPRC to do its job. I am grateful to Congressman Fred Keller and Ranking Member Mike Bost for joining me in leading this effort,” said Rep. Cliff Bentz (OR-02).
“The National Personnel Records Center has gone back on its commitment to reopen in-person operations to the detriment of America’s veterans who expect their government to provide basic resources in a timely manner. The fact that processing times at the NPRC may take up to 18 months is not only unacceptable, but also an insult to every man and woman who sacrificed to protect our nation. The lack of transparency at the NPRC has made it clear that we must pass legislation, like the RECORDS Act, to direct the NPRC to fully reopen and report to Congress on its efforts to clear out its backlog of records requests.” -Rep. Fred Keller (PA-12).
"Repeatedly I have been calling for the White House to develop a plan to fully staff the NPRC to chip away at the backlog of veterans' record requests," said Ranking Member Bost. "While I am encouraged that the NPRC has made strides since this time last year for records requests originating from VA, veterans are still waiting weeks to months on end for their own records requests. We owe them better service. I thank my friends, Rep. Bentz, and Rep. Keller, and our 110 other colleagues for joining me in sending this letter to the Archivist on behalf of the veterans and their families stuck in limbo."
The NPRC is an agency of National Archives and Records Administration, which is responsible for maintaining records, such as DD-214 forms, for veterans to demonstrate military service. The NPRC claims that its reduced staffing is sufficient to resume servicing these routine requests, yet veterans still report an inability to access these forms. Despite numerous calls from Members of Congress to reopen the NPRC and address backlog, the NPRC has remained at minimal capacity since March 2020.
This letter asks the NPRC to schedule a briefing for Members of Congress regarding their plan to fully reopen no later than Feb. 7. 110 Members of Congress joined the three congressmen in signing the letter.
To read the letter click here.