51st Sig Bn


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Records Plight of Our Aging Veterans

This is but one personal example of a veteran attempting to do something so seemingly simple, imagine what many aging veterans are going through should the be attempting to obtain the proof the Veterans Administration is requiring for them to support exactly where they were while serving in Korea, in or near the DMZ some 40 years ago.

If this disabled aging veteran meets with such futile results, and I have heard many more stories, how can we possible expect a Veterans Administration system and the National Personnel Records Center and other agencies necessary to provide what is needed to accurately handle any claims based upon their records?

One lone aging veteranís attempt to do nothing more that get his records

Some 12 years ago I began my quest to obtain my military records, including those medical records that were during my military service or having to do with my military career. First I wanted them simply because I became interested in family history, genealogy, and to have if necessary to provide to my doctors if they were needed. Our family has had many that served, and yes died, during service for their country. Of course I did not die during service but I still wanted and was entitled to have those records. The agencies I dealt with are required by law to provide me a copy of the complete records that they have.

I am a retired US Army enlisted man. A service connected veteran. I would like my records which I am entitled and expect nothing less than an acceptable level of responsibility for those that are in possession and control of those records. They are legally bound and obligated to providing the records to me and all veterans. Anything short of that is a failure! Not of a system but of those personally that we entrust that legal obligation. Someone should be held accountable if they fall short of such requirements, duties and obligations but, unfortunately, the current management and government employees of the agencies involved, are not.

If we, as a society accept such pathetic performances by those we have put in positions to do this, then we, as a society are failing ourselves. Accountability MUST be initiated, from top to bottom of any organizational structure for it to be successful with its obligations. Government agencies, Political Representatives and government employee. Accountability for their actions and shortcomings, regardless of what the position they hold needs to be put in place and enforced.

Now for my story, truthful and factual, of what it took to just get records from those agencies and people that had control or should have helped any veteran trying to get records.

The experiences I encountered with my attempts to get my government personnel records were numerous and over a long period of time. Knowing that while dealing with people in a manner of civility is the best way to get the results you want, I did so respectfully each and every time. I was sometimes not shown such in return, but maintained my composure when dealing with them. During every contact, either written or by phone was done by me in a professional, non-aggressive and polite manner. Never was I abusive to anyone in my communication. My contacts were done to get the results I wanted, not to insult or accuse. I may have thought something and would have liked to tell them what I though, but it would have been counter-productive. Although a few times, it was obvious by their responses that they wanted nothing more than to move on to something else instead of dealing with my request or answering questions for me.

Keep in mind, every, I repeat EVERY written communication that I sent was sent with personal contact information for me, most if not all requested that they contact me and I gave them my phone number to do so if anything else was necessary. Never did I receive a call from any of them in relation to my written request with the exception of one. That one being with Del May, of the National Personnel Records Center, which was the ONLY person that was able to provide ANYTHING that resembled a complete military records file.

With my interest for a number or years in genealogy and family histories. I began trying to obtain my records. With the early failures during the 12 year period that I describe below, it was not until sometime in 2010 that I became aware of herbicide use in areas of Korea where I had done duty. I did not really contemplate the filing of a claim, but if at some point I decided to, I couldnít even give a document supported statement of some exposure. I finally decided that there MUST be records of some sort available through the some government sources. Not for some claim I may or may not file, but because there seemed to be so many that couldn't prove what they were saying about their service. It was time for me to resolve to complete my attempts to get mine, regardless of what it took. Once again began my quest. Not sure where it would end, but it will not be because I didn't give a full effort.

There are several places that may have some records relating to me and following are the places that I attempted to get information, help or records from and the experiences and results of such attempts.

Of the places I decided that I would make inquiries from was the

National Archives
National Personnel Records Center

Department of Army Human Resources Command Army HRC
(Records for retired, this was suggested by a Vets Rep Org and specific address was provided by them.)

Defense Financial Accounting Services
(I was informed by another vet he obtained his complete financial records here by providing a SF-180 and requesting them in writing, which was exactly what I did)

Veterans Administration
(This includes its unique frustrations relating to talking to someone live or getting telephone numbers or contacting anyone that would even be able to help.)

Legislative and political representatives request for assistance
Newly elected Senator Ted Cruz
Senator John Cornyn a self purported political veteran advocate
And the ultimate politician President Barack Obama (yea, I know, didnít really expect much here, but the website indicated he would help in these matters)

I would like to mention here at the beginning that I cannot provide enough praise to only one particular person during this total time frame. Out of the dozens of people I have spoken with at the National Archives and other places, this is the ONLY person that even attempted to do his job, do it well and even tried to provide a veteran with a complete file as requested.

Del May
Archives Technician (2D) Research Room

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Thank You!

from 51st Signal Battalion Korean Veterans