February 19, 2021
The American Legion Department of Minnesota helps get National Personnel Records Center to reopen
ST. PAUL, February 19, 2021 — The American Legion Department of Minnesota had a key role in this week’s reopening of the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC).
The center’s massive collection of federal-employee records is crucial for resolving veterans’ health care claims with the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.
The resolution was under consideration for the National American Legion, and The American Legion’s Washington Office made NPRC officials aware that the resolution was approved in Minnesota and under consideration at National.
The NPRC opened shortly after.
“This resolution addresses the important roll the National Personnel Records Center plays in VA’s duty to assist veterans during the claims process. With NPRC being shut down since March 2020 due to the pandemic only fulfilling emergency records request, it has played a role in VA’s claims inventory reaching 500,000 with 210,000 considered backlogged over 125 days pending,” said Department Service Officer Jeremy Wolfsteller at The American Legion Department of Minnesota.
“This is an update driven by veteran feedback, and officially a part of The American Legion Department of Minnesota,” said Department Adjutant Mike Maxa. “The NRPC backlog never should have reached this magnitude.”
The National Personnel Records Center is part of the National Archives and Records Administration.
The American Legion’s National Executive Committee was planning to officially vote on the resolution during its Spring Meetings, held virtually May 5-6. The issue of the backlog also will be brought up at the annual Washington Conference March 1-3. The Legion supports legislation aimed at funding NPRC $150 million to digitize veterans’ records who served prior to the year 2000, when scanning of documents began.
The American Legion learned of the reopening from Acting Under Secretary of Veterans Benefits Thomas Murphy. He said NPRC workers are coming in and a second shift has been added. Overtime and weekend work is being offered. Contractors have been hired to help with document scanning.
For more information, press only:
Resolution Number: 2021-1
Subject: The National Personnel Records Center Pandemic Response Regarding The Department of Veterans Affairs Records Requests.
WHEREAS, The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) is one of the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) largest operations employing 1,000 personnel, and
WHEREAS, they are the central repository of personnel-related records for both the military and civil services of the United States Government, and
WHEREAS, their mission is to provide world class service to government agencies including the Department of Veterans Affairs, military veterans and their family members, former civilian Federal employees, the general public, and
WHEREAS, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Personnel Records Center is closed except for emergencies regarding medical treatments, burials, or homeless veterans seeking admittance to a homeless shelter, and
WHEREAS, the National Personnel Records Center has not had sufficient on-site staff since March 2020 to respond to many other important requests due to the emergency executive order, including requests from the Department of Veterans Affairs related to veteran’s compensation or pension benefits, and
WHEREAS, the National Personnel Records Center plays a critical role in VA’s claims developmental process providing the Agency with military records requests, and
WHEREAS, the VA is approaching a claims inventory of 500,000 with over 200,000 claims backlogged pending over 125 days due to The National Personnel Records Center inability to virtually fulfill VA’s records request for military records prior to 2000, and
WHEREAS, modem military service records from the year 2000 to current are maintained electronically, most requests submitted to The National Personnel Records Center involve veterans who separated from the military prior to year 2000 that are only available in paper or microfilm formats, which require on-site access, now therefore it be
RESOLVED, by The American Legion, Minnesota, Department Executive Committee by email vote on 10 February 2021, that the National Personnel Records Center be provided the proper PPE to maintain a sufficient number of onsite staff to fulfill VA’s records requests pertaining to VA benefits while helping reduce VA’s claims inventory and backlog, and be it further
RESOLVED, That the National Personnel Records Center provide a specific team of staff to digitize veterans’ records for those who served prior 2000 so in the future staff can continue to fulfill VA’s record requests virtually for all era of veterans, and be it finally
RESOLVED, that, this resolution be forwarded to the National Executive Committee for their concurring action.
This is to certify that this resolution was adopted using electronic email voting by our Department but, with National action substituted for local resolving clause.
Michael Maxa, Adjutant
Department of Minnesota
Originating Source: Jeremy Wolfsteller, Department Service Officer, Dept. Minnesota.