Tester, Moran Call on Biden Administration to Prioritize Veteran Service Records Requests Backlog
Senators urge President to expedite vaccine distribution for National Personnel Records Center staff to tackle growing backlog and provide vets with timelier access to
(U.S. Senate) – In a bipartisan effort to reduce the backlog of veteran service records requests accumulated during the COVID-19 pandemic, Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) are calling 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.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis has further heightened the need for veterans to have timely access to their earned benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA),” wrote the Senators in a letter to President Joe Biden. “In order to receive those benefits, many veterans need access to their records stored at the NPRC. Due to the pandemic, NPRC has closed and while the Center continues to work remotely and provide records on an emergency basis, the pandemic has created a backlog of almost half a million record requests.”
The NPRC, operated by the National Archives and Records Administration, is currently operating at less than 10 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.
The Senators continued, “Additional funding in the American Rescue Plan will help alleviate some of the strain on the NPRC, $150 million of which is specifically intended for NPRC and the additional digitization of records during the pandemic. Unfortunately, funding alone will not allow them to return to full capacity, therefore we ask you to direct vaccines to the NPRC staff so they can return to work as soon as possible. If they are unable to return in-person soon, it could mean years of continued backlog for veterans seeking their much needed benefits.”
Read the Senators’ full letter to President Biden HERE.