America's Veterans and the National Archives

Uploaded by usnationalarchives on 10.11.2010

A lot of people in the public think that there’s one big computer data base that the government
has and all’s they have to do is key in their personal data and they’ll find out
everything there is to know about you. That’s not at all how it works. My name is Scott
Levins. I’m the Assistant Director for Military Records at the National Personnel Records
Center in St. Louis, Missouri, which is an office of the National Archives. This is a
lot of boxes! We have 80 million items in our holdings. They go back to the Spanish-American
War. The records are all permanent records, never to be destroyed so our mission is to
preserve them for posterity but also to make them available for people who need them now.
I’m Ricky Moe. I am a retired veteran from the Air Force. It’s real easy to get your
records. First you go out to the National Archives site. Then you click on it and you
click on how to order your military records. We receive approximately 5,000 requests every
day. They can submit it online, they can fax a request to us, even just mail us a letter
through the regular Postal Service. I’m gonna select what I want, I want Military
Awards and Decorations. Type my name in. My last name. You need to put a phone number
for a daytime contact in case we have a hard time finding your records so we’ll be able
to call you and ask you for more information. Now what comes up here is a signature page.
You print that out. Make sure you sign it. If you’ll fax it in to the number provided
on the screen, that’s it. When it’s received we enter it into our production system and
we digitize the request. There’s Ricky Moe’s record, right there. So what we’re gonna
do, we’re gonna add his record to the batch of search requests that we already have. And
now I’m gonna assign it to one of the searchers. I am Lanre Jones and I work at the National
Archives. I’m a student so I pretty much work part time. Typical day on an 8-hour day
would be 240 records. Out of the 5,000 requests that we receive every day about 75% of them
will be serviced within 10 days or less. The other 25%, well we might run into obstacles.
In July of 1973 the building that we’re in right now burned. The top floor of this
building was lost. A great deal of records were lost in that fire. This record right
here has a page which was damaged in the fire. We have a large number of records that were
burned in the fire in 1973 and that’s the bulk of our work here in the conservation
lab. I have a case here for a Mr. Ricky Moe. What the veteran is asking for is medals and
awards. The first document that you would want to look for is the DD 214. It tells me
all medals and awards that the veteran has earned while in service. We make two copies,
two regular paper copies. And we would take a seal and we will seal them. The response
letter. We’ll sign that. Now you have a completed case. If everything goes right,
it happens in about six days.