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Lankford Introduces Fix to Backlog Blocking Veterans from Receiving Benefits

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced the Increasing Access to Military Service Records Act to address the backlog of over 500,000 service records requests from Veterans, and modernize the way in which Veterans access their service records. Without access to military service records, Veterans and their families cannot access service-related benefits including medical treatment, unemployment assistance, home loans, and student loans.

“Veterans shouldn’t miss out on the ability to receive medical treatment or pay for groceries because of a paperwork backlog. Our nation’s heroes put their lives on the line for our freedom, and they deserve timely and easy access to their service records. Our bipartisan solution works to address the barriers Veterans and their families are facing when attempting to receive benefits,” said Lankford. 

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) typically receives 1.2 million requests each year. Most of the records are hard copy form only, so when on-site staffing restrictions were imposed at the St. Louis records facility during the COVID-19 pandemic, their ability to process requests was significantly slowed.

This legislation would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a portal for maintaining digital records of former members of the Armed Forces and to establish an advisory committee regarding the maintenance of those records. 

Lankford has continued to serve Veterans and their families and ensure they receive the benefits promised to them. Earlier this year, he introduced the Fry Scholarship Enhancement Act to support spouses and children of wounded and fallen service members. Lankford also secured into law the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvements Act of 2020 which includes his legislation to extend eligibility for the Fry Scholarship to spouses and children of National Guard and Reserve service members who died of service-connected causes but whose deaths did not occur when the member was on active duty.