Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, December 18 , 2018, 2:38 pm | Partly Cloudy 64º


Capps Introduces Bill to Help Veterans Receive Benefits

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Wednesday introduced the Veterans’ Record Reconstruction Act, a bill that will make it easier for veterans to prove their eligibility for certain benefits or decorations.

The bill would require that the Department of Defense, in consultation with the Department of Veterans Affairs, develop guidelines for the consideration and use of unofficial sources of information in determining benefits and decoration eligibility when a veteran’s service records are incomplete due to damage caused to the records while in the possession of the Department of Defense.

In 1973, a fire at the National Personnel Records Center in Overland, Missouri, destroyed 16 million to 18 million Official Military Personnel Files. Because none of the destroyed records had duplicate copies, nor had they been copied to microfilm, it was difficult to determine what had been destroyed. This has led to incomplete records for many of our nation’s World War II, Korean War and Vietnam-era veterans. However, these records are often the only acceptable documentation for benefit and awards determination, leaving millions of veterans in a potential state of limbo.

In response, unofficial sources of information, including post-marked letters, photographs and eyewitness accounts have been used on a case-by-case basis to help reconstruct some veterans’ files. But currently there is no set pathway to guide a veteran through this process. The Veterans’ Record Reconstruction Act would direct DOD and the VA to develop clear criteria for the consideration and use of unofficial sources, making it easier to help more veterans get the benefits they deserve.

“It is unacceptable that — three decades later — this tragic fire is still making it difficult for veterans to receive the benefits and recognition they deserve,” Capps said. “While my office has been able to help some veterans on a case-by-case basis, the process of reconstructing incomplete military records can be time-consuming, confusing and costly for veterans. It shouldn’t be that way. The debt we owe to our nation’s veterans is immeasurable, and we need to create a clear pathway to reconstructing their military service records to ensure we are doing all we can to get them the benefits and recognition they have earned.”

“I have worked with numerous people who have been denied benefits as a result of their records being destroyed in the fire,” said Bob Handy, national chair of Veterans United for Truth. “It is shameful to deny former servicemen and women the benefits and recognition that they have earned in service to our country. Rep. Capps is to be commended for taking the steps to right this wrong and provide our veterans with the recognition they deserve.”

“As the local chapter commander in Lompoc, I have met with several veterans that had their claims denied by the VA because of no records to support any claims of military service or injuries incurred,” said Frank Campo of Disabled American Veterans. “Several of these veterans were granted initial ratings by the VA, but when they went to upgrade their disability rating percentage, were denied for no supportable documentation. I believe the passage of this important veteran’s legislation will help those veterans obtain the benefits they deserve.”

The local chapters of the Disabled American Veterans and the AMVETS both sent letters in support of this legislation.

Capps — whose district is home to more than 50,000 veterans — has long been a strong supporter of our nation’s veterans, voting for the post-9/11 GI Bill, as well as the largest increase in funding in the history of the Veterans Administration. She is also the author of bipartisan legislation to help Iraq and Afghanistan vets use their medical training to more easily become civilian Emergency Medical Technicians.

— Chris Meagher is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.


Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.