How do I Acquire Military Medical & Dental Records?

By Mark Nero
Ex-service members wanting copies of their records must contact the U.S. Veterans Affairs Dept.

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Former members of the U.S. Armed Forces, once discharged, may need to obtain copies of their medical and/or dental records that were kept while they were in the military. To do so, veterans must contact either the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs or the National Personnel Records Center, depending on what year they left the service. Active duty military members wanting copies of their records have to request them from the facility at which they received medical and/or dental treatment.

Contact the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs Records Management Center in St. Louis, Missouri to obtain copies of your records if you're no longer on active duty or in the active reserves and have been fully discharged from the military. The VA maintains all military veterans' records, and can mail you copies of both your medical and dental records. The process can take a few weeks, with the amount of time depending on how long ago you served in the military and how far your records have to be mailed from the records center. See the VA link in the Resources section on this page for more information. The mailing address and phone number are:

VA Records Management Center

PO Box 5020

St. Louis, Mo 63115

(314) 538-4500

Contact the facility or facilities where you were provided medical care to request copies of your records if you're still on active duty or active reserves and want your medical records. Requests have to be in writing and must indicate what records you are requesting, why you're requesting them, and to whom they can be released. Depending on where you're based and where the treating facility is, it could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for copies of your records to reach you. A map of all U.S. military national facilities is linked to in the References section on this page.

Contact the dental office they were treated at if you're active duty military and want to acquire copies of your dental records. Not all military bases have dental facilities, but even if you were treated off-base and/or by a civilian dentist, you still have a right to a copy of your records. When contacting the dental office, you must specify if the request is for dental records, x-rays, or both. Note though, that some civilian dental offices may charge you for copies of your records.

Contact National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri if you're a veteran who served in the U.S. Army prior to 1992, since this is where your health records, including all outpatient, dental and mental health treatment, are archived. The health records of all Navy and Marine Corps vets who served before 1994 are at the NPRC, and the records of all Coast Guard personnel who served before 1998 are at the NPRC. After receipt of a request, it can take the NPRC a minimum of a few days to process it and mail the records out. See the link in the References section on this page for more information. The NPRC's mailing address and phone number are:

National Personnel Records Center

Military Personnel Records

9700 Page Ave.

St. Louis, Mo. 63132

(314) 801-8000

About the Author

Mark Nero has been a professional journalist since 1995 and has written for numerous publications within and outside the U.S. His work has appeared in "The Boston Globe," "San Diego Union-Tribune" and "Los Angeles Daily News" among others. Nero studied communications at San Diego State University.

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