Fact-checking military records
My state has several candidates for federal office who are trumpeting their military service and I’d like to fact-check those claims against federal records.
For example, Candidate X is recently retired from the Navy and claims to be a Navy Seal, etc. etc.
To fact-check the claims I would at a minimum require the candidate’s Form DD-214. But it would also be good to review the veteran’s entire OMPF record.
Would I send a FOIA request to the Department of the Navy, Defense, or VA?
The National Personnel Records Center is the best place to start, and they have a good breakdown of what you can get from where, and how.
Via instant messenger from a user, lightly edited:
A FOIA officer in Texas accepted a request for “Any record or document that shows the dates of employment and/or current employment status of [a guy I was researching] in the Texas Army National Guard” and fulfilled with a screenshot of an HR software screen showing the rank and dates of service.
It wasn’t comprehensive, but there was no requirement for getting a signature, date of birth, or SSN.
From Kirsten B. Mitchell, an OGIS faciliator:
Regarding your question on the FOI listserv, there is another source, though not as definitive as the NPRC, that also may be of interest. Doug Sterner uses FOIA daily to obtain official military medal citations from NPRC. A Vietnam veteran, he has uncovered hundreds of cases of falsified military valor in his compilation of a database of more than 200,000 military honor citations.
Here’s a story about him which has a link to his database/website:
I cannot vouch for the database, but OGIS mentioned Mr. Sterner in its first annual report in 2011 as an example of FOIA use.
Thanks for the help everyone, it resulted in this request. Feel free to add suggestions for future requests of this nature. https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/ryan-zinke-military-record-10284/