Last year, Sen. Ossoff brought Republicans and Democrats together to pass his bipartisan bill to help veterans access the service benefits they’ve earned
Sen. Ossoff secures commitment from Archivist nominee to rapidly fix backlog of veteran record requests by end of 2023
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff is continuing his work to help Georgia veterans access their service benefits without delays.
Last year, Sen. Ossoff passed into law his bipartisan Access for Veterans to Records Act of 2022, aimed at making it easier for veterans in Georgia and across the country to access records that are often required to access critical care and benefits earned through their service to the nation.
Yesterday, in a U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, Sen. Ossoff secured a commitment from Dr. Colleen J. Shogan, nominee to be Archivist of the United States National Archives and Records Administration, responsible for veteran records, to reduce the National Personnel Records Center’s backlog of veteran military records requests.
Dr. Shogan committed to working with Sen. Ossoff to expedite the completion of the veterans’ records backlog by December 2023, if confirmed to the position. Shogan also made a commitment to make her first visit as Archivist to the National Personnel Records Center to begin fixing the backlog.
Sen. Ossoff’s veteran records law requires the Archivist to submit a plan to Congress outlining how they will reduce the backlog and provides additional resources to the Agency to ensure veterans can have timely access to their records. The law also creates new guardrails to prevent future record backlogs.
“Veterans need access to their military service records, which are in the custody of the Archives. And the good news is that with Chairman Peters support, last year, I introduced and passed into law the bipartisan Access for Veterans to Records Act in order to address the serious backlog of requests for access to military service records,” Sen. Ossoff said during the hearing.
Please find a transcript of Sen. Ossoff’s line of questioning below:
SEN. OSSOFF: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Dr. Shogan, good to see you again. I congratulate you again on your nomination. You and I have discussed this issue previously, so you won’t be surprised to hear that I’m eager to hear again, your commitments to work with me to address the significant delays that veterans are experiencing accessing their service records.
“As you know, Dr. Shogan, to access their VA benefits and other services to which they’re entitled as veterans, veterans need access to the Military Service Records which are in the custody of the Archives. And the good news is that with Chairman Peters support, last year, I introduced and passed into law, the bipartisan Access for Veterans to Records Act in order to address the serious backlog of requests for access to military service records.
“In your hearing last September, you committed to work with my office to address that backlog. So, I want to ask you again, now that my bipartisan legislation is law, will you commit to working with me swiftly to eliminate the backlog of veterans record requests at NPRC?”
DR. SHOGAN: “Senator, thank you for that question. Absolutely.”
SEN. OSSOFF: “What is your understanding of the latest state of that backlog? What efforts are underway now to address it? What do you think will need to be done if and when you assume this office in order to eliminate it?”
DR. SHOGAN: “Senator, I think there is good news in that regard. The backlog is down to about 330,000 requests. The height of the backlog was over 600,000 requests so that is good progress. And the projected timeline for completion of the backlog or elimination of it is December of 2023.
“And if I am confirmed, I promised to make my first trip as Archivist of the United States to St. Louis to the National Personnel Records Center to see the operations on the ground, to figure out where we can find deficiencies, to figure out to make sure that we are using contractual authorities to the highest extent, to make sure that work gets done in an expeditious fashion.
“And also, to explore any other creative solutions where we might be able to move that deadline up, although ambitious, December 2023. I think we could all agree we’d like to have that sooner if possible.”
SEN. OSSOFF: “Thank you, Dr. Shogan.”