EXCLUSIVE – House Republicans are shining a light on a major records backlog at a government archives agency that has meant thousands of veterans and their families are waiting months, and in some cases years, for paperwork that is necessary to receive benefits.
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are calling for a congressional hearing on the backlog of 500,000 record requests at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). The major delay in obtaining records, including military DD-214 separation forms needed to obtain veterans’ benefits, worsened during the coronavirus pandemic when federal workers were sent home and unable to physically process the requests for records in a timely fashion.
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“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 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.”
Ranking member Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., questions Postmaster General Louis DeJoy during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing titled Protecting the Timely Delivery of Mail, Medicine, and Mail-in Ballots, in Rayburn House Office Building on Monday, August 24, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images/Pool)
Comer and 19 other House Republicans authored a letter Monday, obtained first by Fox News, to the chair of the committee, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., calling on leadership to convene a congressional hearing on the veterans’ backlog. They already had a bipartisan briefing last month with the records administration (NARA), but the Republicans say the agency must be held accountable in a public committee hearing to ensure 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.”
Maloney told Fox News Monday she’s committed to finding a solution
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