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WATCH: Sen. Ossoff Continues Push to Help Georgia Veterans Access Their Service Records

Sen. Ossoff secured a commitment to ensure more veterans can access their service records

Last week, Sen. Ossoff introduced bipartisan legislation to help end the backlog of records requests

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff is continuing his bipartisan push to help Georgia veterans access their service records.

Today, in a U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, Sen. Ossoff secured a commitment from a key nominee to reduce the National Personnel Records Center’s backlog of veteran military records requests, which are often required to access critical care and benefits veterans earn through their service to the nation.

“Veterans across Georgia, across the country are deeply frustrated by the interminable delays accessing their military records, and they need these records for their VA health care benefits.”Sen. Ossoff said during the hearing. “They need these records for their employment and educational benefits.”

Dr. Colleen J. Shogan, nominee to be Archivist of the United States National Archived and Records Administration, committed to work with Sen. Ossoff and told him that if confirmed, she would work with NPRC leadership to find creative solutions to reduce the backlog on military service records.

The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) currently has a backlog of nearly half a million record requests from veterans and their families.

Last week, Sen. Ossoff introduced bipartisan legislation to to help eliminate the current backlog of veterans’ record requests at the National Personnel Records Center.

Click here to watch Sen. Ossoff’s line of questioning:

Please find a transcript below:

SEN. OSSOFF: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I know you touched on this issue a moment ago, I want to raise it again with you Dr. Shogan; that’s the backlog in military service records. Veterans across Georgia, across the country are deeply frustrated by the interminable delays accessing their military records, and they need these records for their VA health care benefits. They need these records for their employment and educational benefits. I introduced last week, the bipartisan Access for Veterans to Records Act to try to address this backlog so that veterans in Georgia and across the country can access their records. If confirmed, will you commit to working with me to eliminate the backlog of military service records requests at NPRC? And not just to working with me, but to putting it at the very top of your agenda?”

DR. SHOGAN: “Yes, thank you, Senator for that question. It is at the very top of my agenda, if I am confirmed as Archivist of the United States. And in fact, if I am confirmed as Archivist of the United States, I will make my first trip as Archivist of the United States to St. Louis to the NPRC so I can meet once again with the leadership there, and the hard-working staff that are attempting to reduce the backlog. There has been great progress made thus far and I look forward to finding creative solutions within federal law and regulations in order to reduce that backlog at a faster pace.”

SEN. OSSOFF: “I appreciate that commitment, Dr. Shogan, and making that commitment here today will mean a lot to veterans in Georgia who frankly are skeptical after years of dealing with this, that there can be a change. But there must be a change. Veterans deserve timely access to their records and I’m going to ask for a further commitment, which is that once you have had the opportunity to meet again with the folks at the NPRC and to get your bearings in your first four or five weeks in office, should you be confirmed, that you will timely submit to this Committee, your assessment of the drivers of this backlog and a specific plan to eliminate it. Will you make that commitment?”

DR. SHOGAN: “Yes, thank you, Senator, I am willing to make that commitment. I will make myself available. What I’ve learned, and just a further comment on that, I think, I mean, obviously the first thing that has to be done if I’m confirmed as Archivist is removing the backlog. But there has to be a second step which is to make sure that a backlog is not created in future circumstances. We hope that the pandemic is over, but we can never predict what is coming down the road in the future. So, I believe there has been great progress by the Department of Veterans Affairs in moving to digitize those records in a timely fashion and in a reasonable priority. And once those records are digitized and placed in the cloud, then NPRC staff will be able to access them, and I think everything the requests will be processed much, much faster in the future. So, I think there’s a good, there’s a good end to this story if we can get there.”

SEN. OSSOFF: “Thank you Dr. Shogan.”

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