FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Austin Hacker
WASHINGTON — Congressman James Comer (R-Ky.) issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Access for Veterans to Records Act:
“Our nation’s veterans and their families have faced inexcusable wait times for records that are necessary to obtain critical services because federal bureaucrats didn’t show up to work in-person. The Access for Veterans to Records Act makes necessary reforms to modernize the process for obtaining veterans records and requires federal workers to work in-person to eliminate the backlog. I thank Representative Keller for his tireless work on behalf of our nation’s brave veterans and urge the Senate to take up this bill immediately to provide relief to those who served and defended the United States,” said Congressman Comer.
The Access for Veterans to Records Act will help provide resources to address the veterans’ records requests backlog at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). NPRC—which operates within the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)—houses records that are essential for veterans to receive service-related benefits, including medical treatment, unemployment assistance, and emergency housing services. A reduced workforce at the NPRC due to the pandemic, combined with the fact that most of these records are not digitized, exacerbated the backlog of veterans’ records requests. Although NPRC has reduced the backlog to 515,000 veterans’ records requests from a peak of 603,000 in March 2022, it is still significant.
This legislation requires NARA to submit a detailed plan for eliminating the backlog and authorizes $60 million for NARA to directly address the NPRC backlog by improving response times to veterans’ requests for military records, improving cybersecurity, and improving the digitization and preservation of records.