Personnel Records Center Temporarily Halts Operations
The National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri, has been closed to the public since March and is now temporarily shutting down most of its remaining operations because of increased COVID-19 spread in the area.
There is no prediction for when full operations might resume. “The NPRC will be operating at various degrees of reduced on-site capacity until the public health emergency has ended,” the center says in a statement.
This action slows but does not completely halt activity on veterans’ claims that often require proof found in military records.
“We will continue servicing emergency requests associated with medical treatments, burials, and homeless veterans trying to gain admittance to a homeless shelter,” the center said in a statement on its website. “Please refrain from submitting non-emergency requests such as replacement medals, administrative corrections, or records research until we return to pre-COVID staffing levels.”
“We will maintain a small on-site staff who will respond only to emergency requests, such as those involving requests to support burial honors for deceased veterans; life-threatening medical emergencies; requests from homeless shelters seeking to gain admittance of a homeless veteran; and comparable emergencies,” the center says. “If you have such an emergency, you must complete Standard Form 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records, and fax a signed copy to (314) 801-0764.”
While NPRC continues to provide military records to determine eligibility for burial in national cemeteries, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Authority reports delays in obtaining needed records. “At this time, NPRC is working with NCA to identify records related to casketed interment requests,” the VA says in a statement. “Once NPRC can resume normal operations, NCA will then request records for cremated interments.”
Eligibility for burial may often be determined without needing assistance from the records center, the VA says.
The records center said it does not have much choice in the partial shutdown. The facility “is located in an area which has one of the highest per capita rates of confirmed COVID-19 cases in St. Louis County,” a records center statement says. “It employs nearly 1,000 federal employees and contractors from multiple agencies, working in densely populated office space. Cubicles are in close proximity to each other; work processes require frequent, close interactions with coworkers; and the servicing of most requests requires access to over 60 million paper records that are stored on-site and unable to be accessed remotely.”