Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are asking for a congressional hearing on the backlog of 500,000 history requests in the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration's (NARA) National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). The huge impediment in obtaining records, including military DD-214 separation forms needed to obtain veterans' benefits, aggravated during the coronavirus pandemic when federal workers were sent home and powerless to physically process the requests for records in a modern fashion.
"America's veterans fought for us, but the federal government isn’t even willing to return to work to provide veterans with their records," Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement to Fox News. "The result: almost half a million requests from veterans and their families were delayed for months. This is an utter tragedy and a poor reflection on the gratitude we should pay to the brave men and women and their families who served our country."
Comer and 19 other House Republicans penned a letter Monday, received first by Fox News, to the chair of the committee, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., calling on leadership to assemble a congressional hearing on the veterans' backlog. They already had bipartisan guidance last month with the records administration (NARA), but the Republicans say the agency must be held accountable in a public committee hearing to guarantee such a backlog never happens again.
"It is completely unacceptable that America’s veterans and their families are waiting—in some cases over a year—to obtain service records for benefits they earned through their service to our country," said Rep. Fred Keller, R-Pa., in a statement to Fox. "While the National Personnel Records Center was forced to reduce its on-site operations due to COVID-19 restrictions, it’s evident that there was no plan to ensure that records requests would continue to be fulfilled in a timely manner."
"For months, I have been leading a bipartisan effort on the Committee to address the backlog of requests at the National Personnel Records Center caused by the pandemic. While I am encouraged by some of the steps NARA has taken to address this issue, much more must be done to bring service to the level our nation’s veterans and their families deserve," Maloney said in a statement. "I will not rest until this issue is resolved, and I will continue to explore what actions our Committee can take to ensure our nation maintains its commitments to our veterans."