(U.S. Senate) – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced that it will allocate COVID-19 vaccines to National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) staff in order to support claims processing following a bipartisan push from Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).
March 19, the Senators called on the Biden Administration to expedite vaccine distribution for National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) staff in order to increase its operating capacity and provide veterans with timelier access to benefits.
“We’re glad the Biden Administration answered our call to direct vaccines to NPRC staff, which will allow them to safely return to work as soon as possible,” said Chairman Tester and Ranking Member Moran. “These vaccines will increase NARA’s operating capacity, alleviate the growing claims backlog, and provide veterans with their earned benefits. This is an important step in connecting more veterans and families with much needed support to get through this pandemic.”
The NPRC, operated by NARA, is currently operating at 25 percent of normal operating capacity and only servicing requests related to emergencies. As a result, veterans nationwide are experiencing delays with accessing VA-administered programs, including health care, education, disability, pension, and burial benefits, with more than 25,000 pending requests for personnel records.
The Department of Health and Human Services will provide a separate allocation of vaccines to the National Archives to vaccinate its staff members. NARA employees will be scheduled appointments to get vaccines at an off-campus site.