Steve Womack

11/23/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/23/2020 16:42

Womack Urges NPRC to Resume Processing Military Personnel

Washington, DC-November 23, 2020....Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3) today joined Rep. Van Taylor (R-TX-3), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20), and a bipartisan group of more than 230 members in sending a letter urging the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) to implement new policies so that they may resume processing military personnel, health, and medical records requests and address the growing backlog of requests due to the closure of the facility amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter also underscores that all agency policy changes should continue to consider the health and safety of NPRC's workforce.

In part, the members stated, 'We write to voice our growing concern with the rising number of unprocessed requests for military personnel, health, and medical records from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) amidst the current pandemic. Except for a limited number of emergency requests, since March of this year, our constituents' requests for military personnel records from NPRC have largely been unfulfilled. Moreover, there remains no definitive timeline in which our constituent veterans can expect to have their requests processed. As you know, personnel records are needed for veterans and their dependents to qualify for a range of benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense.'

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, NPRC reduced on-site operations on March 23, 2020, only processing 'emergency requests.' Since that time, the facility has remained in this operational status with no definitive timeline for addressing the backlog or improving processing times. These personnel records are needed for veterans, military members, and their dependents to qualify for a range of benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense.

The bipartisan letter was signed by 233 Members of Congress, including 111 Republicans and 122 Democrats.

The full text of the letter can be found below or here :

Director Scott Levins

National Personnel Records

Center National Archives and Records Administration

1 Archives Drive

Saint Louis, Missouri 63138

Director Levins,

We write to voice our growing concern with the rising number of unprocessed requests for military personnel, health, and medical records from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) amidst the current pandemic. Except for a limited number of emergency requests, since March of this year, our constituents' requests for military personnel records from NPRC have largely been unfulfilled. Moreover, there remains no definitive timeline in which our constituent veterans can expect to have their requests processed. As you know, personnel records are needed for veterans and their dependents to qualify for a range of benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a significant challenge for all Americans and the Federal agencies who serve them, and efforts to protect workforce health and safety are absolutely of top importance. However, as more time continues to elapse, these delays are causing significant anxiety and hardship for many of our nation's veterans.

It's for that reason we write to strongly encourage you to work to implement new policies and procedures that can both protect the NPRC's workforce and ensure our nation's veterans are getting the records they need and deserve in a timely fashion. We also ask that you provide our offices with a working plan including a timeline for how your agency intends to address the growing backlog of military personnel records requests. As many of our constituents have already been waiting for months to obtain their records, providing a plan and a timeline would offer a needed level of certainty in these difficult and uncertain times.

The NPRC serves as an important cornerstone in our nation's system to provide and care for veterans, but without your agency's needed services many of those who have worn the uniform are experiencing significant claims processing delays. We ask for your committed leadership to overcome these challenges and to assist in providing veterans with the records needed to pursue their earned benefits. As Members of Congress, we stand ready to assist in these efforts.

Sincerely,

Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3) has represented Arkansas's Third Congressional District since 2011. He serves as the Ranking Member of the House Committee on the Budget and is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

womack.house.gov

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