Pa. Congressman seeks to break backlog of veterans records
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Major delays in obtaining military records only became worse during the pandemic. U.S. Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.) says veterans in his district have been waiting months to receive copies of crucial military records like these needed to receive their benefits.
That’s due in part to the backlog at the National Personnel Records Center, where the workforce has operating at just 25 percent in-person capacity since March because of the pandemic.
“The current backlog, which is around a half-million cases,” said Keller. “We get… 5,000 requests a day from across the country.”
That led the Republican lawmaker to introduce the RECORDS Act, which would require the center to fully re-open and issue a report to Congress on efforts to end the delay.
“Our veterans worked at 100 percent capacity when it came to putting on a uniform and protecting our freedom and our way of life,” Keller said.
The NPRC and other federal agencies must submit their employee re-entry plans to the Biden administration by July 19.
Operating at 25 percent capacity in-person “will enable the Center to respond more quickly to emergency requests and service a larger number of requests than it has over the past several months,” according to a statement on NPRC’s website. “However, because it is still operating far below its pre-pandemic capacity, many other requests will continue to be delayed.”
The good news: the D.D. 214 form necessary for getting some basic benefits and records is not needed for some claims and requests through the Department of Veterans Affairs. But, the bad news is NPRC employees can only access some of the 60 million paper records in person, not remotely, which is why 45 U.S. House Republicans are calling for employees to return to full in-person work now.
“They deserve a lot better out of their government than to have to wait months to access benefits that they’ve earned,” Keller said.