Your military health records can be ordered through the NPRC and the VA, and can be done by letter, fax, or online. To properly request your records, and to ensure you get the records you are looking for, you will need to know the two major categories of military medical records.
The first category is “outpatient records”, or the “health record”. It typically consists of your in-processing and out-processing physical exams, immunization, dental, eyewear and other medical profiles (if you ever had any duty limitations or health conditions). For most veterans discharged after 1992-1994 (depending on your branch of service), the VA will maintain the outpatient records at the VA’s Record Management Center (RMC). Sometimes, you may get a summary of “hospitalizations” or “inpatient treatments” in the health record. When you first file a claim with the VA, they will usually request the outpatient record and included it in your complaint file (C-File).
The second category is “inpatient records”. These records are created by the military medical facility that treated you. They are retained by that facility, and then eventually forwarded to the NPRC (National Personnel Record Center). For this reason, your “inpatient records” are not stored under your name with your outpatient records. They are stored first under the name of the treatment facility, and then second by month/year. So, when requesting your records from the NPRC, always be sure to request records from any specific military facility where you were treated, including the month and year that you were treated. The VA does not typically request the “inpatient records” when a claim is filed. Moreover, inpatient records are not stored at the VA’s RMC. These records continue to be maintained at the NPRC, regardless of when the service member was discharged.
Sometimes, the treating facility fails to send the inpatient records to the NPRC. So, if you are having difficulty locating specific treatment records, you should consider contacting the facility directly but be sure to include language from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Privacy Act so that the facility will not try to block the release of these records.
If you are having difficulty locating your military medical records, contact a Veterans’ Service Organization or VA Benefits Attorney, such as the Attig Law Firm, PLLC, to get some assistance.