51st Sig Bn

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Records Plight of Our Aging Veterans

The First Efforts
beginning in 2001

National Archives
National Personnel Records Center

St. Louis, MO

2001

I filed a written request for all Documents relating to my military service including all medical records. It was filed in writing along with the necessary form that they required.

Response April 6, 2001 with only copy of DD-214

It certainly was not what had been request, but being the first DD-214 I have ever gotten. On going over it, I noticed errors on it. Now getting my complete records was more important than just a desire to have them. They were a necessity to ever attempt for any correction of records or even some support to show historically that the document did not reflect the true history of my service in relation to family history. So it was back to the National Archive and the continuous efforts to get them to do their duty, locate and provide me what I was entitled to, a complete copy of my records.

Earmie L. Tippett
Archives Technician

Numerous phone contacts made, but never were able to contact the archives technician that had provided the single document to my recollection. After repeated attempts to get more than just the DD-214, which by the way was the first copy I had EVER received. Didn’t even get one from the army when I was retired. I was finally told by the person I spoke with that the "records had been destroyed in a fire at the national archives" and I could get no additional records available and could get nothing more from them.

Essentially what this meant is that I could not even try to get the one record that was provided corrected since there was no supporting documentation that I could provide or that the government had found that would allow for correction.

At this point I had little option but to resign myself that nothing further could ever be done that required any other records of my military service, including corrections of errors or any possible future VA claims. Extremely frustration I resigned myself to that fact that any further attempt would lead to failure and just further frustration.


2004

In 2004 I became aware that in fact my records were never involved in the fire as I had been told some 3 years prior. At that time I decided to try a different approach thinking perhaps the online approach that was now available would be a more efficient system and would result in my obtaining my records finally. The request was initially made online, and request was made again for ALL records, medical and personnel and any additional record.

ONLINE REQUEST made for ALL records AND FAXED FORM 180

The online request involved sending a request online, BUT it had to be followed up with a faxed or mailed completed and signed SF-180, which was done on:

May 24th, 2004

The response was from:

Willie Mixon
Archives Technician
Core 2, Team C

Response dated May 27, 2004 was received several days after this date and again - with ONLY a copy of the DD-214 enclosed

Once again, the records request was not forthcoming with my records, only a DD-214. So, once again, I began the time consuming and frustrated process of trying to talk to the person that had responded and was supposed to have provided my complete records. Same old troubles of never being able to reach that person. Left messages, never a reply. Only thing that was available to me was the offer to any live person I talked to and when able to get someone on the phone line they said they could help me when they told me he wasn’t available. There help was always responses that “all the records that were in our possession had been sent” to me in their initial response. Again, fighting the anxiety, depression and frustration that I was already suffering from, these continued efforts to obtain records did nothing more that cause further medical problems and stress. Myself and my family considered it unhealthy for me to continue due recent heart conditions and other medical situations which was being impacted. Once again, just couldn't continue on this path of denial, rejection and failures.

After contemplating more on the records issue and finding out about things that went on while in Korea that I was not aware of, such as herbicide spraying, testing of servicemen with the hepatitis shots and other things, I decided that I WOULD get them, regardless of the pressure of trying to do so. Once again I went in with determination and resolve to do any and everything I could do to get my entitled records provided for me. This began again in 2012.

2012-2013

Written Request again was made in Dec 2012 following procedures as necessary and the required form filled out and signed. What follows is the series of events that came about during the months that followed:

I filed a written request in Dec as indicted. A call in mid January just to check and see if there was some place I could check the status of it. The person that I got in contact with told me. "It hasn't been assigned to a researcher yet". Some 30 days and not even assigned? He also stated that the earliest I could expect anything was another 6 to 8 months from now. I was not happy about that of course. Seven to nine months? I asked him what would I have to do to come see the records personally and that we could come in mid February if the records could be available. He stated that could be done and gave me specific instructions on making the request and what additional information had to be put on the SF-180, which included the dates we would be there and my telephone number, and gave a fax number to sent it to. Also gave me his name to call this number and contact him. Of course these instructions were followed exactly.

A few days later I attempted to contact this person to see that he had gotten the fax and was proceeding. Of course, couldn’t get hold of him (name was George). After a few tries and left messages, I told the one that answered why I was trying to get hold of him and was told that is not how they do things. I must send that request such as I did and just wait for them to contact me as to when I could view the records. My response was that was not what I understood, but I would like him to contact me to insure that he had gotten my fax and were they acceptable to his instructions on filling them out. She said she would leave him a message and took my phone contact information. Of course, as usual, no response.

I called again in February at vacation time (since a trip of many miles would be required, vacation time frame was necessary) and still, he was not available, nobody had any information about the request sent in, like it had never even be received.

So just sit back and wait and see what will develop.

The next communication that came was a phone call from Del May on Mar 13th which is discussed a little farther down.

A few days later I received a letter from Jennifer Benz-Jankorski that had been written dated Mar 13th and received on Friday the 15th.

Letter dated Mar 13, 2013 Jennifer Benz-Jankorski Archives Technician (3A) No pages, letter and form 180

This one is an example of what I have usually gotten. Request for form, form was sent with request to begin with. If you read the request even, it would have said that the form was provided, look for it, if you can't find it you certainly can't find the records I want. The request stated "If more information that provided on the SF-180 is necessary, please let me know", conclusion, the 180 was sent with the request, duh!

The next communications was received the 18th.

Letter dated Mar 15, 2013 (envelope postmarked Mar 14, 2013) (interesting, mailed it a day before it was written? Ha Ha ) Rebecca Solovitz Archives Technician (3A) approx pages 33 were sent, certainly a disappointment again. Seems a half hearted attempt to provide something, anything, let's copy something and send it, we can say it was all that was found. I called Dell about this and that is discussed further below.

First person that actually provided what was requested, his was directed toward my actually going there to view records:

Del May Archives Technician (2D) Research Room

I cannot provide enough praise to this particular person. Out of the dozens of people I have spoken with at the National Archives, this is the ONLY person that even attempted to do his job, that being trying to provide a veteran with a complete file as requested.

Then March 13th A CALL FROM NATIONAL ARCHIVES! It was Del May, he said that he had just gotten to my request and went and found my military records. They were in front of him right now and when would I like to come view them and get copies. I stated that the request had been for a time we would be available to come and that time had passed. He said "Oh I see that". I told him I would have to try to schedule another time period for us to come and had to get back with him in a day or so.

Now considering what I had already experienced, I had real reservations of EVER getting my records. I asked him if he could do something for me, simply could he mail me copies of everything and there would be no need for him to hold them, for us to schedule and travel and it would give me the results I desperately desired and his part would be done. He immediately stated "sure he could do that and would do it". I asked a few other questions just so I could feel better about it actually containing the substantial amount of records that would be included and he said he thought it would and that it was everything that he could find. He said he would send it to copy today, should have it back the next day and would get it mailed out himself.

In the meantime, I got the records from the earlier request, they were TOTALLY incomplete with about 33 total pages of documents.

I called Del and got him a few days later. When I told him what I had received and that it was certainly not anything near a complete file and that I was puzzled and wondering if that was all he was able to find. He said to look on the cover letter and see if it had his name on it. I told him it did not. He said you haven't gotten what I sent, you should have it within the next few days and he said it had considerably more than what I said I had gotten. That made me feel much better and true to his word, 4 or 5 days later came his response to my request, my records, complete, no, but certainly the greatest attempt at obtaining them that I have ever had. Some of the things that should have been in there and not are no reflection on him. Just because they are not in the records he found doesn't mean that they were ever even a part of what went to the Archives to begin with. I believe this person, and this person alone, was the ONLY one that ever actually did their job, their duty, and did what was necessary to get my TOTAL records to me. All others just did so little so that they could clear a request and get some sort of credit for it. Never once in 12 years has ANYONE other than him actually responded in an appropriate manner to a veterans request for records, NOBODY! For that I am thankful to him and him alone in the National Personnel Records Center. The others, hope you get fired and they replace you with more like him!

Results: SUCCESS
Thanks to the efforts of only one individual - Del May



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Thank You!

from 51st Signal Battalion Korean Veterans

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