On the 74th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack, Higgins announces Access to Military Service Records Act
Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, announced legislation that would eliminate the fee charged to veterans to access their military records from the National Archives, the Access to Military Service Records Act of 2015 (H.R. 4159). The announcement coincides with the anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II, which happened 74 years ago today.
Military service records for veterans, like those who served in World War II, are moved to the National Archives from the Department of Defense 62 years after the veteran is discharged. According to the National World War II Museum, there are 855,070 World War II veterans alive today, with 44,254 residing in New York.
The Access to Military Service Records Act was introduced Dec. 2. Higgins recently spoke about the legislation on the House Floor.
"The Department of Defense transfers a veteran's service record to the National Archives 62 years after they are discharged from the military. One hundred thousand archived records per year are requested to determine eligibility for a medal, to research one's medical history, or to request a change in discharge status.
"The Department of Defense provides records to veterans for free. But once the records are sent to the archives, veterans are charged $25 to $75 for a copy of their file.
"Mr. speaker, this is unacceptable that a veteran should have to pay the government for proof of their sacrifice and service. What's more, this fee is levied on veterans who are most likely living on a fixed income.
"This fee is unnecessary and inexcusable, and I ask my colleagues to support legislation that I am introducing today to eliminate it."
Higgins is a staunch advocate for those who have served this country. He introduced legislation to remove time limits for veterans to use their G.I. Bill education credits, and successfully fought to keep the Kids Korner Child Care center open at the Buffalo VA Hospital. On the eve of the 71st anniversary of D-Day, he presented more than 50 service medals to WWII veterans and their families.
Earlier this year, Higgins announced more than 280 Western New York veterans who were killed in action during the Vietnam War would have their names added to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor to remember their ultimate sacrifice.