By Mark Satter: For Complete Post, Click Here…
fter Navy veteran Jack Ray Hoaglan died from the coronavirus in December, his family tried to arrange a military funeral for the 73-year-old. They needed paper records from the National Personnel Records Center to prove the Ohio native’s service aboard the USS Enterprise decades ago.
The phones at the St. Louis center, however, went unanswered.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the NPRC has sat empty, with employees working remotely. And records requests, most of which require someone to physically search for documents within the building, have been piling up.
Now, the backlog has grown to more than 499,000 requests, according to a spokesperson for the National Archives, which oversees the NPRC. The National Archives estimates that it will take 18 to 24 months to clear the backlog once the center is staffed at full capacity.
The records are key to unlocking many kinds of veterans benefits, including health care, burial benefits, home loans and COVID-19 vaccinations.