Chairs Maloney and Lynch Launch Inquiry into Veteran Records-Retrieval Companies

Jul 15, 2022
Press Release
Chairs Investigating Whether Retrieval Companies Take Advantage of Veterans and are Contributing to NPRC Records Backlog

Washington, D.C. (July 15, 2022)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, sent letters to veteran records-retrieval companies Aardvark Research Group, Angels Research, and DD214Direct requesting information about their potential misuse of National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) procedures, which are meant to expedite veterans’ records requests in urgent or emergency situations, while also charging their veteran customers as much as $99 to obtain essential military discharge documents that they are entitled to receive directly from NPRC at no cost. 

 

“We are concerned this practice may take advantage of veterans who need records to obtain crucial benefits and may be preventing NPRC from fulfilling true emergency requests in a timely manner,” wrote the Chairs.

 

A form known as “DD Form 214” (DD214) is required for veterans to access crucial benefits after they separate from active military service, including health care, housing, and civilian employment benefits.  This document is housed at NPRC—which operates within the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)—and can be made available to veterans at no-cost upon request.

 

At the onset of the pandemic, NPRC modified its staffing and limited operations to prioritize emergency requests. 

 

According to NARA, records-retrieval companies are misusing NPRC’s procedure by marking non-emergency requests as emergencies to expedite their requests.  These requests circumvent NPRC’s standard procedures, contributing to the office’s already significant backlog and potentially delaying NPRC’s response to legitimate emergency requests. Some of these companies also have problematic terms of use, threatening veterans with legal action or thousands of dollars in fines if they post online reviews that are “derogatory or critical” of the companies.

 

The Committee requested information and documents from three veteran records-retrieval companies, including their records request procedures, their use of emergency requests, and their terms of use.

 

Today’s letter is the most recent effort by Chairs Maloney and Lynch to help address the veteran records backlog at NPRC.  This week, the House passed H.R. 7337, the Access for Veterans to Records Act, sponsored by Chairwoman Maloney, to help reduce the backlog.  The investigation also comes on the heels of a Subcommittee on National Security hearing examining the growing threat of financial scams, fraud, and other exploitive schemes targeting servicemembers, veterans, and their families. 

Click here for the letter to Aardvark Research Group.

 

Click here for the letter to Angels Research.

 

Click here for the letter to DD214Direct.

 

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Issues: 
117th Congress