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Lost to History: Missing War Records Complicate Benefit Claims by Iraq, Afghanistan Veterans

Field records from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, needed to document combat injuries, disability claims and the simple history of both wars, were never kept, were destroyed or simply cannot be found, a ProPublica-Seattle Times investigation has found.

Field records from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, needed to document combat injuries, disability claims and the simple history of both wars, were never kept, were destroyed or simply cannot be found, a ProPublica-Seattle Times investigation has found. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A strange thing happened when Christopher DeLara filed for disability benefits after his tour in Iraq: The U.S. Army said it had no records showing he had ever been overseas.

DeLara had searing memories of his combat experiences. A friend bled to death before his eyes. He saw an insurgent shoot his commander in the head. And, most hauntingly, he recalled firing at an Iraqi boy who had attacked his convoy.

The Army said it could find no field records documenting any of these incidents.

Part Two: A Son Lost in Iraq, but Where Is the Casualty Report?

For more on the story behind the story, read How This Story Came About.

PubNotes

Over the last decade, dozens of military units deployed in the war on terror have destroyed or failed to keep field reports of their activities, a loss of important historical records that can also make it harder for veterans to prove they qualify for medals or disability benefits. Our reporting found a few reasons behind the problem:

System failure: In a string of critical reports, historians said Army units were losing their own history by failing to keep adequate field records. The U.S. military began relying on computer records during the Gulf War, introducing major gaps in recordkeeping as the old-style paper system fell apart. The Army then introduced a centralized system for collecting electronic field reports, but units have failed to submit records there.

Security concerns: Some military commanders ordered units to purge computer hard drives before redeploying to the United States, destroying any classified field records they contained.

Leadership: Disagreements among military officials have also led to lack of coordination in record-keeping. “The Army would say it’s Centcom’s responsibility... Centcom would say it’s an Army responsibility,” said one Archivist. Recordkeeping took a backseat to wartime demands: “Something just had to fall off the plate, there was so much going on,” a former Centcom records manager said.

» Are you a veteran who can't obtain your military field records? Tell us your story.

DeLara appealed, fighting for five years before a judge accepted the testimony of an officer in his unit. By then he had divorced, was briefly homeless and had sought solace in drugs and alcohol.

DeLara's case is part of a much larger problem that has plagued the U.S. military since the 1990 Gulf War: a failure to create and maintain the types of field records that have documented American conflicts since the Revolutionary War.

A joint investigation by ProPublica and The Seattle Times has found that the recordkeeping breakdown was especially acute in the early years of the Iraq war, when insurgents deployed improvised bombs with devastating effects on U.S. soldiers. The military has also lost or destroyed records from Afghanistan, according to officials and previously undisclosed documents.

The loss of field records — after-action write-ups, intelligence reports and other day-to-day accounts from the war zones — has far-reaching implications. It has complicated efforts by soldiers like DeLara to claim benefits. And it makes it harder for military strategists to learn the lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan, two of the nation's most protracted wars.

Military officers and historians say field records provide the granular details that, when woven together, tell larger stories hidden from participants in the day-to-day confusion of combat.

The Army says it has taken steps to improve handling of records — including better training and more emphasis from top commanders. But officials familiar with the problem said the missing material may never be retrieved.

"I can't even start to describe the dimensions of the problem," said Conrad C. Crane, director of the U.S. Army's Military History Institute. "I fear we're never really going to know clearly what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan because we don't have the records."

The Army, with its dominant presence in both theaters, has the biggest deficiencies. But the U.S. Central Command in Iraq (Centcom), which had overall authority, also lost records, according to reports and other documents obtained by ProPublica under the Freedom of Information Act.

In Baghdad, Centcom and the Army disagreed about which was responsible for keeping records. There was confusion about whether classified field records could be transported back to the units' headquarters in the United States. As a result, some units were instructed to erase computer hard drives when they rotated home, destroying the records that had been stored on them.

Through 2008, dozens of Army units deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan either had no field records or lacked sufficient reports for a unit history, according to Army summaries obtained by ProPublica. DeLara's outfit, the 1st Cavalry Division, was among the units lacking adequate records during his 2004 to 2005 deployment.

Recordkeeping was so poor in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2007 that "very few Operation ENDURING FREEDOM records were saved anywhere, either for historians' use, or for the services' documentary needs for unit heritage, or for the increasing challenge with documenting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)," according to an Army report from 2009.

Entire brigades deployed from 2003 to 2008 could not produce any field records, documents from the U.S. Army Center of Military History show.

The Pentagon was put on notice as early as 2005 that Army units weren't turning in records for storage to a central computer system created after a similar recordkeeping debacle in the 1990-91 Gulf War.

In that war, a lack of field records forced the Army to spend years and millions of dollars to reconstruct the locations of troops who may have been exposed to toxic plumes that were among the suspected causes of Gulf War Syndrome.

At the outset of the Iraq war, military commanders tried to avoid repeating that mistake, ordering units to preserve all historical records.

But the Army botched the job. Despite new guidelines issued in 2008 to safeguard records, some units still purged them. The next summer, the Washington National Guard's 81st Brigade Combat Team in Iraq was ordered to erase hard drives before leaving them for replacement troops to use, said a Guard spokesman, Capt. Keith Kosik.

Historians had complained about lax recordkeeping for years with little result.

"We were just on our knees begging for the Army to do something about it," said Dr. Reina Pennington, a Professor at Norwich University in Vermont who chaired the Army's Historical Advisory Committee. "It's the kind of thing that everyone nods about and agrees it's a problem but doesn't do anything about."

Critical reports from Pennington's committee went up to three different secretaries of the Army, including John McHugh, the current secretary. McHugh's office did not respond to interview requests. His predecessor, Peter Geren, said he was never told about the extent of the problem.

"I'm disappointed I didn't know about it," Geren said.

In an initial response to questions from ProPublica and the Times, the Army did not acknowledge that any field reports had been lost or destroyed. In a subsequent email, Maj. Christopher Kasker, an Army spokesman, said, "The matter of records management is of great concern to the Army; it is an issue we have acknowledged and are working to correct and improve."

Missing field records aren't necessarily an obstacle for benefit claims. The Department of Veterans Affairs also looks for medical and personnel records, which can be enough. The VA has also relaxed rules for proving post-traumatic stress to reduce the need for the detailed documentation of field reports.

But even the VA concedes that unit records are helpful. And assembling a disability case from witness statements can take much more time, said Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the retired Army vice chief of staff who worked to combat suicides and improve treatment of soldiers with PTSD and brain injuries.

"You would always love to have that operational record available to document an explosion, but there are other ways," Chiarelli said. "You can provide witness statements from others who were in that explosion. But it's going to be more difficult."

After reviewing findings of the ProPublica-Times investigation, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to report on efforts to find and collect field records.

"Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are unable to document the location and functions of their military units could face the same type of problems experienced by Cold War veterans exposed to radiation, Vietnam era veterans exposed to herbicides and Gulf War veterans exposed to various environmental hazards," Murray said in a statement.

Former Secretary of the Army Peter Geren told ProPublica that he was never told about the extent of the problem of missing war records. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Former Secretary of the Army Peter Geren told ProPublica that he was never told about the extent of the problem of missing war records. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Already, thousands of veterans have reported respiratory problems and other health effects after exposure to toxic fumes from huge burn pits that were commonly used to dispose of garbage in Iraq and Afghanistan.

DeLara remains embittered about the five years he spent waiting for his disability claim. In an interview at his home in Tennessee, he pointed to Army discharge papers showing he'd received the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, awarded for service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Next to that were blank spaces where his deployment dates should have been.

"If they'd had the records in the first place, and all the after-action reports," DeLara said, "this never would have stretched on as long as it did."

A Desperate Search for Records

The Army is required to produce records of its actions in war. Today, most units keep them on computers, and a 4,000-soldier brigade can churn out impressive volumes — roughly 500 gigabytes in a yearlong tour, or the digital equivalent of 445 books, each 200 pages long.

Field records include reports about fighting, casualties, intelligence activities, prisoners, battle damage and more, complete with pictures and maps. They do not include personnel or medical records, which are kept separately, or "sigact" reports — short daily dispatches on significant activities, some of which were provided to news organizations by WikiLeaks in 2010.

By mid-2007, amid alarms from historians that combat units weren't turning in records after their deployments, the Army launched an effort to collect and inventory what it could find.

Army historians were dispatched on a base-by-base search worldwide. A summary of their findings shows that at least 15 brigades serving in the Iraq war at various times from 2003 to 2008 had no records on hand. The same was true for at least five brigades deployed to Afghanistan.

Records were so scarce for another 62 units that served in Iraq and 10 in Afghanistan that they were written up as "some records, but not enough to write an adequate Army history." This group included most of the units deployed during the first four years of the Afghanistan war.

The outreach effort by the Army was highly unusual. "We were sending people to where they were being demobilized," said Robert J. Dalessandro, executive director at the Army's Center of Military History. "We even said ... 'Look we'll come to you' — that's how desperate we got."

As word of missing records circulated, the Joint Chiefs of Staff became worried enough to order a top-level delegation of records managers from each service branch to Baghdad in April 2010 for an inspection that included recordkeeping by U.S. Central Command.

Centcom coordinated action among service branches in the theater. Among other things, Centcom's records included Pentagon orders, joint-service actions, fratricide investigations and intelligence reviews, with some records from Army units occasionally captured in the mix.

After five days, the team concluded that the "volume, location, size and format of USF-1 records was unknown," referring to the acronym for combined Iraq forces. The team's report to the chiefs cited "large gaps in records collections ... the failure to capture significant operational and historical" materials and a "poorly managed" effort to preserve records that were on hand.

In a separate, more detailed memo, two of the team's members from the National Archives and Records Administration went further.

"With the exception of the Army Corps of Engineers, none of the offices visited have responsibly managed their records," they wrote. "Staff reported knowledge of only the recently created and filed records and knew little of the records created prior to their deployments, including email. ... It is unclear the extent to which records exist prior to 2006."

Part of the problem was disagreement and lack of coordination about who was responsible for certain records, including investigations into casualties and accidents, according to Michael Carlson, one of the two archivists.

"The Army would say it's Centcom's responsibility to capture after-action reports because it's a Centcom-led operation. Centcom would say it's an Army responsibility because they created their own records," Carlson said in an interview. "So there's finger-pointing ... and thus records are lost."

Nearly a year after the U.S. pullout from Iraq, Centcom said it still is trying to index 47 terabytes of records for storage, or some 54 million pages of documents. It's not clear if those include anything recovered after a 2008 computer crash the Baghdad team termed "catastrophic."

Lt. Col. Donald Walker, an Air Force officer who took over as Centcom records manager in 2009, acknowledged that there was confusion about responsibility and confirmed that that some Centcom records may have been lost. In part, he blamed computer problems and the competing demands of wartime.

"Something just had to fall off the plate, there was so much going on," said Walker, who worked out of Centcom's Tampa, Fla., headquarters but was among the Baghdad inspectors.

Rather than risk letting classified information fall into the wrong hands, some commanders appeared to buck the orders to preserve records. One Army presentation asserts that in 2005, V Corps, which oversaw all Army units then in Iraq, ordered units to wipe hard drives clean or physically destroy them before redeploying to the States.

"They did not maintain the electronic files. They just purged the servers," according to the Military History Institute's Crane, who said he heard similar accounts from more than a dozen veteran officers in classes at the Army War College.

The orders directing Washington National Guard's 81st Brigade to erase hard drives before leaving Iraq came "from on high," according to unit spokesman Kosik, who said he confirmed the erasures with a senior Guard officer with first-hand knowledge. He said the orders came from outside the Washington Guard.

"There was a lot of confidential information, and they were not allowed to take it out of theater," said Kosik. "All that was wiped clean before they came home. ... It was part of their 'to-do' list before leaving country."

Steven A. Raho III, the Army's top records manager, said in an interview that he couldn't estimate what, if any, records might be missing. But Raho said his agency wasn't responsible for collecting records, only for storing them in the Army's central records system when individual units handed them over.

Units are not required to do so, he emphasized. "All's I know is we have some and units have some," Raho said.

As a test, ProPublica filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for a month's worth of field records from four units deployed in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. The requests went to Raho's Records Management and Declassification Agency, which forwarded them to each unit.

One brigade — the 2nd Combat Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division — did not respond, but FOIA officers from the three others said they searched and could find no responsive records.

"I don't know where any Iraq operational records are," said Daniel C. Smith, a privacy act officer at Fort Carson, Colo., who handled the request for the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division. "I've never been able to find out where they went."

At Fort Riley, Kan., FOIA officer Tuanna Jeffery looked for records from the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division. "Prior to and upon the inactivation of the unit on March 15, 2008, that unit had turned in absolutely no records," she responded.

In a follow-up email, Jeffery said the entire 1st Armored Division did not turn in any field records through 2008.

'They Couldn't Find It'

Army veteran Christopher DeLara spent five years waiting for his disability claim to be approved. The VA said it couldn’t find Army records to corroborate his combat experiences. (Shawn Poynter for ProPublica)

Army veteran Christopher DeLara spent five years waiting for his disability claim to be approved. The VA said it couldn’t find Army records to corroborate his combat experiences. (Shawn Poynter for ProPublica)

Chris DeLara is not the type of soldier to wear his heart on his sleeve, but the 1st Cavalry Division's shoulder patch is tattooed on his right forearm in a swirling piece of body art. Beneath it are the words: "Baghdad, Iraq."

DeLara, 38, grew up in Albany, N.Y., never dreaming he might someday fight a war. Now, his tour in 2004 and 2005 haunts his every day. Since winning his appeal in March 2011, he is classified as fully disabled by post-traumatic stress and cannot work. He was awarded a stipend of about $30,000 a year and has moved near Knoxville, Tenn., where he recently bought a modest house.

Getting to a stable point wasn't easy.

DeLara was an administrative specialist, essentially a personnel clerk. But he was repeatedly pulled out of his scrivener's life for missions as a roof gunner on convoys. It was a time of insurgency and exploding factional violence in Baghdad.

"They told us, 'This may be your job, but guess what? You're going to be doing everything,'" he said. "We had many hats. You go to combat, your job is secondary. Combat is first."

DeLara did not want to discuss his combat experiences, but they are described in part by a judge in the Board of Veterans' Appeals ruling that approved his PTSD claim.

In the years after his deployment, DeLara told psychiatrists and others who treated him at various times that two of his friends were killed in an insurgent attack on his convoy, and that he was unable to stop one of them from bleeding to death from a ruptured artery.

He said that one his commanders was shot in the head in front of him by insurgents, and reported that he had killed an Iraqi youth who had tried to attack his convoy after it was stopped because of a roadside bomb, according to the judge's summary.

After his return in 2005, DeLara was diagnosed several times with PTSD or its symptoms, according to VA exam records cited by the appeals judge. He drank and used drugs even though he'd abstained from them in the Army. In 2006, he overdosed on prescription drugs.

DeLara said he lived for a time in a shelter for troubled vets. He and his wife eventually divorced, but he credits her for helping him fight for his claim when he might have given up.

They first applied for a PTSD benefit in 2006, DeLara said. A denial came the next year because his separation document, called a DD-214, did not list any dates of overseas deployment, he said.

"They couldn't find it. Well my ex-wife, she being as persistent as she is, we started pulling all the stuff" to send to the VA, he said. DeLara dug out the movement order sending his unit to Iraq and the brigade roster with his name on it. He added descriptions of his combat experiences. "Basically what it was, I needed to provide proof," he said.

But he was denied again, this time because the VA said his symptoms were of bipolar disorder, not PTSD. DeLara said he appealed but got a letter saying there was insufficient evidence that he'd experienced combat stress. The VA told him that it had "no records, none whatsoever" of his time in combat, DeLara said.

"We basically put the whole packet together from scratch again," DeLara said. This time, he tracked down his former company commander, who was incensed about the VA denials and provided a letter confirming an incident in which DeLara came under enemy fire. Still, two years went by before DeLara received word that his appeal was set for a hearing in January 2011.

Although the judge found in his favor, the ruling notes that, in June 2008, the center responsible for locating his records "made a formal finding of a lack of information to corroborate a stressor for service connection for PTSD." The center even looked a second time but still came up empty-handed.

DeLara said he still can't believe it. "I had dates and everything" in the supporting material he and his ex-wife sent to the VA, he said. "The simple fact is that nobody filled out after-action reports," DeLara said. "There was no record of it."

Asked how often a search for unit records comes up empty, officials at the VA said they didn't know — the agency doesn't track that statistic. A VA spokesperson said missing field records are not a major factor delaying veterans' claims, however. And some veterans' advocates agree.

"As long as an officer or a buddy who witnessed the event is willing to sign a notarized statement, that's good," said John Waterbrook, who advises vets on disability issues in Walla Walla, Wash.

In 2009, as DeLara was refiling his case, veterans' groups complained to Congress that soldiers serving as clerks or mechanics unfairly faced a higher burden of proof for PTSD than those with an obvious combat role, even though they faced the same dangers in wars with no front lines.

The VA relaxed its rules the next year, so that a vet's account of combat stress is proof enough if a VA medical examiner agrees. But while the change helps, it hasn't sped up claims or made field records less valuable, said Richard Dumancas, the American Legion's deputy director of claims.

Field records can come into play for other injuries. Take the case of Chief Warrant Officer 3 Lorenzo Campbell, a 53-year-old soldier with the Washington Guard who filed a disability claim resulting from a 2004 injury in Iraq.

During a rocket attack, Campbell banged his knee on a concrete bumper after jumping out of a Humvee to find cover. He saw a doctor, but there was no record in his medical files. His knee gradually deteriorated, and he now wears a brace and is unable to run.

Campbell said he tried to get records of the rocket attack from the state Guard but was told they were classified and left on computers in Iraq. He said he offered a letter from another soldier testifying to the incident and swore out a statement himself, but it didn't suffice.

"I tried to keep fighting it," he said. "They kept writing me saying they need more information, they need more information."

Campbell said his disability claim took four years to be approved — a delay that could have been shortened had the records been available. "If you have no records," he said, "you can be fighting for five or six years and still not prevail."

Tradition Eroded, Warnings Brushed Aside

Military recordkeeping has been the cornerstone of the nation's war history for centuries. From the founding of the republic through the Vietnam War, recordkeeping was a disciplined part of military life, one that ensured that detailed accounts of the fighting were available to historians and veterans alike.

The records can hold untold stories that can surface decades after a conflict.

The massacre of civilians by U.S. forces at No Gun Ri, South Korea, in July 1950 came to full national attention only in 1999, nearly 50 years after the fact. Journalists at The Associated Press, working in part with military field records, uncovered the extent of the tragedy. Later, other reporters used the records to show that one purported witness wasn't really present.

By the Gulf War, however, what had been a long tradition of keeping accurate, comprehensive field records had begun to erode. Old-style paper recordkeeping was giving way to computers. And Army clerks had been reduced in number, leaving officers to take care of records work.

According to the Army's "Commander's Guide to Operational Records and Data Collection," published in 2009, the problem became evident months after the end of Desert Storm, when vets began reporting fatigue, skin disease, weight loss and other unexplained health conditions.

"When the Army began investigating this rash of symptoms, its first thought was to try and establish a pattern of those affected: What units were they in? Where were they located? What operations were they engaged in?" the guide says. "The answers provided by investigators were: 'We don't know. We didn't keep our records.'"

When Secretary of the Army John McHugh arrived in 2009, he received a report saying that the recordkeeping system was broken and pleading for resources to fix it. In an email, the Army said that it is 'working to correct and improve' records management. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

When Secretary of the Army John McHugh arrived in 2009, he received a report saying that the recordkeeping system was broken and pleading for resources to fix it. In an email, the Army said that it is 'working to correct and improve' records management. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Afterward, the Army created Raho's records agency and a central records system. As the war on terror began, however, inspections and penalties for recordkeeping at the command level had largely fallen by the wayside, according to Army documents and interviews with officers who helped search for Gulf War records.

Robert Wright, a retired Army historian, said training broke down. "They fight as they train, and they never were trained," he said.

On March 28, 2003, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz ordered retention of all records in the Iraq war. Military records, he wrote, "are of enduring significance for U.S. and world history and have been indispensable for rendering complete, accurate and objective accountings of the government's activities to the American people."

But in the combat zones, there were other priorities.

Kelly Howard served as operations officer to Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who was in charge of the Iraq war from 2004 to 2007. Her primary job was archiving Casey's papers, a task that had been ignored until her arrival in 2006. Casey stored them in a foot locker, among other places.

"The reason so many things got lost ... is because so many people at higher levels weren't requiring it," Howard said, referring to systematic recordkeeping. "You do what your boss wants you to do. It's not that anyone said, 'No, I don't care about that.' It's just so many other things were important."

Alarms mounted at about the same time as DeLara finished his Baghdad tour.

In 2005, the Army's Historical Advisory Committee learned that Raho's agency had not "received any records from units deployed in Afghanistan & Iraq."

This came as a shock. Members of the group include a mix of civilian historians and officials from the Army War College and Center of Military History.

"So we go through the whole meeting," said Richard Davis, senior historian at the National Museum of the U.S. Army. "So I ask the records manager point blank. I said, 'How many records have been retired from overseas by U.S. Army units?' And the answer was zero.

"By late October the records management people here in Washington had received not a single document from Afghanistan or Iraq," Davis said. "At that point all the historians looked at each other and said 'Holy shit! '"

Minutes from the committee's 2006 meeting quote Raho as saying, "Our problems are that the training for Army personnel is incomplete, the responses are uneven, and the records themselves are either incomplete or nonexistent."

Another member suggested writing a book. "As an institutional history, I think it's a great idea," responded historian Pennington, then the committee's chairwoman. "'Losing History': It's a topic that merits visibility and study."

The committee included regular warnings about a broken recordkeeping system in its annual reports to the secretary of the Army.

The 2006 report to Secretary Francis J. Harvey said Raho had described "major problems" in records collection, including "the lack of centralized control of data collection, the destruction of records without evaluation, and inadequate communications between Army units and records collection personnel."

Raho, the report said, "observed that 17 to 23 percent of all Iraq/Afghanistan War veterans will suffer from various forms of PTSD. ... Without strong and immediate action to remedy present shortcomings, the Army's ability to substantiate veteran disability claims will be degraded seriously, with potentially highly troublesome and expensive consequences."

In its 2008 report, the committee said: "Units are losing their own history. This will create a snowball effect, resulting in problems with awards and heritage activities in the future."

Pennington signed the report, adding a personal comment: "After six years of service on DAHAC, and now as its chair, I am frankly discouraged by the frequency with which DAHAC has expressed some of the same concerns, and how little progress has been made on some issues."

Then-Secretary Geren's office responded with a thank-you letter under his signature. But Geren said in an interview that he was not personally informed about missing records, despite his March 31, 2009, letter. "I'm confident it was not brought to my attention."

When McHugh, the current secretary, arrived in 2009, he received a committee report reiterating that the system was broken and pleading for resources to fix it. "This has been requested every year since 1997," the report said.

"It's probably the most serious problem historians have ever had," Pennington said in an interview. "I honestly don't know how we're going to be writing records-based history in 20 to 30 years." Typically, field records remain classified for two to three decades after a war, then are transferred to the National Archives.

Although committee members felt unheard, wheels had slowly begun moving in the Army. In 2007, Raho's agency and the Center of Military History launched the outreach project that discovered the historians were right: Scores of units did not have the records they should.

Because Raho did not have enough staff, the Center of Military History provided detachments for the search. For more than two years they collected field reports, turning up about 5.5 terabytes' worth.

Some additional records have dribbled in since: Dalessandro, the center's director, said one brigade of the 1st Armored Division handed over field records from its 2007 Iraq deployment. It's possible that more might be found from other units, but historians say the chances fade with each year.

Burn Pits: The New Agent Orange?

The demand for the field records isn't likely to abate as members of Congress ratchet up pressure to investigate exposure to burn pits.

Veterans' groups say the long-term health impacts could be similar to those of herbicides in Vietnam. Rep. Michael Michaud of Maine, ranking Democrat on the House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Health, said missing field records "could have consequences for veterans for years to come."

In September, the House passed the Open Burn Pit Registry Act to track veterans with symptoms and find out where they were exposed and for how long. A similar measure is pending in the Senate. The VA currently runs registries for Agent Orange and Gulf War Syndrome, and last year the Institute of Medicine said more research is needed.

Some veterans' advocates say field records could provide critical.

"It's going to be very hard to connect individuals without the field records," said Dan Sullivan, director of the Sgt. Thomas Sullivan Center, a nonprofit named after his brother, an Iraq vet who died from mysterious health complications.

"It would strike me that they are very important."

Are you a veteran who can't obtain your military field records? Tell us your story


Versions of this story will be published by The Seattle Times and Stars and Stripes.

 Peter Sleeth is a veteran investigative reporter who covered the Iraq war for The Oregonian and helped the paper win a Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for breaking news. Now freelancing, his most recent piece for the Oregon Historical Quarterly is a profile of progressive-era activist Tom Burns.

 Hal Bernton has been a staff reporter for The Seattle Times since 2000. He has covered military and veterans affairs, reporting from Iraq in 2003 and from Afghanistan in 2009 and this fall. Among other things, Bernton has reported on veterans' health issues, post-traumatic stress and, recently, improvised explosive devices.

ProPublica's Marshall Allen, Liz Day and Kirsten Berg contributed to this story.

The U.S. Army said it had no records showing from overseas. I have been waiting for over a year to get a reply about my own VA clams for my three deployments in Afghan. Not sure why the U.S> Army would loose all of those records? But is this just another way for the U.S. Army to sweep things under the rug and on TV they always talk about take care of our Vets. when will the Government start doing that and what will happen to the person’s / top commanders whom ordered these records to be cleaned up? We are always here to do our job’s for the U.S. Government when will we start getting taken care of?

Whats the deal, its hard enough living with a false democracy and proxy wars run by big business I have to take care of soldiers that managed no to die and make it back!!!! This unfair requirement that I take care of other people and give back to my community gets my white blood boiling!!!! Why can’t I have everything and do nothing!!!!

This is extremely damaging to America’s credibility.  What ever will happen to those whose records have been lost or destroyed? A real tragedy for an America in crisis.

Obligatory Godwin’s Law reference - you need the Germans for good record keeping during your wars.  I hear they werwe excellent at that sort of thing.
As were the Stasi.

Shows the narrow-minded shoot-yourself-in-the-head mentality of the military. Also shows you they know they are war criminals, destroying the records of their crimes. History be damned.

They probably would have done that in my day too (68-72/SSgt) but they didn’t have the records on digital which is tremendously volatile and easy to lose. Long-term storage and usability of digital files is a massive problem and a should-be scandal but no one gives a damn.

My film negatives from more than 45 years are still good as are most of my prints. We took extra steps to make them archival. My digital files from only a few years ago, and sometimes only a few months ago become unreadable on various media and various types of storage. Still, the photos are so cheap and easy now that only a handful of photographers bother to send up warnings, mostly disregarded by the computer industry.

So, add digital volatility as an archivists nightmare to the outright destruction of operating records and you have massive cover-up of constant war crimes - not to mention the later crime of plunging those same veterans into no-man’s land when it comes to health care and benefits later.

The irony is that this is the same military which demands hero treatment for anyone in uniform. Just a cover really for fodder in, fodder out (of luck).

Typical!
Record keeping costs time an money. Shipping records uses valuable transportation assets that can be used elsewhere. Military records can be used to substantiate claims against the US government, the very entity that has “lost” the records, and then requires an applicant to produce them..

In addition to all of that, some time ago, the US government authorized community hospitals and other medical providers to dispose of records after a certain amount of time.  This can prevent those such as veterans from obtaining records that are required by the government to prove levels and history of disabilities and medical conditions. Again, reducing the governments potential liability and resulting payment.

Let me expose another related problem or two.
It’s well known that the VA takes an inordinate amount of time to decide a veteran’s claim. What happens when a veteran is fired/laid off for reasons that relate to conditions involved in a VA claim?

Remember that most of the employment protection laws specify a fairly short time to pursue claims, as do contracting laws that makes an employer ineligible to bid or execute government contracts.
This combination can easily allow a disabled veteran to be fired/laid-off, since it will likely be more than a year (or more)  before the VA rules that a condition/disability is service connected. SSA also has been known to also have long delays in resolving claims, again, longer than that time-frames specified in the employment protection laws.

Milan B. Lemmon

Nov. 11, 2012, 12:49 p.m.

What a mess. The Army is screwing up on keeping records for our country. I believe in the hard copy.

After being kicked out of the Air Force in 1976 for a condition I was told “Will continue to effect Job Performance in the Future” The VA mysteriously Lost my Military records that showed what happened and why. The medical records that could indicate what conditions I was suffering with went missing also.
I fought the VA for 32 years trying to get paid for services rendered.
My point ... the Military and the VA has been covering up these atrocities and even the Congressman do nothing for decades why should Middle East Veterans be any different? Talk to the Vets who committed suicide what happened to them?

My son had a similar experience. He was a non combat personnel who went on every mission both in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was lying on top of a buried IED when it exploded. Fortunately, it was buried too deep. He spent a week under the care of medics, regaining his sight(he was wearing night vision goggles when it happened), and his hearing. He still has tinnitus in that ear. Fortunately, the VA got him into a great program for working through his PTSD. But I also wonder about how many soldiers have never received Purple Hearts because there are no records. My son was told by two different VAs that there was no record of his injury anywhere.

lol. wow…Why isn’t anyone do anything about it? Think about it…
Now let us look at other incidents pertaining to this war thing. When the pentagon was hit by that missle or small private size jet the part of the building that was hit held all financial records which were ALL dstroyed. Just the day before the secretary of defence stated on national TV that 3-6 billion was missing from records to be investegated. Building 7 ? Remember building 7 ? 3 blocks away. Caught fire. Firefighters told to evacuate the building. 3 min later building completely collapse to the ground. Who rented the space and all their records were destroyed? OMG! Really? The FBI, CIA, NSA, IRS, Treasury Dept, INS, ATF…and every other 3 letter organization in the fed. WHAT? How come I didn’t know that? BS? IMPOSSIBLE? lmfao. And you people think you got the answers…lol. There are several inestigations underway to the total of 10’s of billions if not 100’s missing in the middle east debacle, Afghanvietnamistan and That counrty with all the Weapons of Mass Destrution that never existed.

The GOP loves to have the lower income level people’s children to go and fight their profitable wars for them, but they also love to cut their benefits, and now this. It must be pure brain washing that keeps most service members voting for GOP politicians. Why would anyone vote for a d—ned Republican, unless they are rich, or a boot lick ?

Albert Sgambati

Nov. 12, 2012, 2:23 p.m.

And Veterans continue to be hurt by the U.S. Senate, in which 40 members filibustered the Veterans Jobs Corps Act (S.3457):
On Sept. 19, Senate Republicans blocked the Veterans Jobs Corp Act of 2012 (the Act called for employing veterans as police, firefighters and in Civilian Conservation Corps type programs) due to a budgetary point of order which required 60 votes to move the bill forward for consideration.—They think it costs too much! Please take a moment and write these senators about the bill; S.3457 and urge then to pass it, and help our returning heroes.
Alexander (R-TN), Nay
Ayotte (R-NH), Nay
Barrasso (R-WY), Nay
Blunt (R-MO), Nay
Boozman (R-AR), Nay
Burr (R-NC), Nay
Chambliss (R-GA), Nay
Coats (R-IN), Nay
Coburn (R-OK), Nay
Cochran (R-MS), Nay
Corker (R-TN), Nay
Cornyn (R-TX), Nay
Crapo (R-ID), Nay
DeMint (R-SC), Nay
Enzi (R-WY), Nay
Graham (R-SC), Nay
Grassley (R-IA), Nay
Hatch (R-UT), Nay
Hoeven (R-ND), Nay
Hutchison (R-TX), Nay
Inhofe (R-OK), Not Voting
Isakson (R-GA), Nay
Johanns (R-NE), Nay
Johnson (R-WI), Nay
Kirk (R-IL), Not Voting
Kyl (R-AZ), Nay
Lee (R-UT), Nay
Lugar (R-IN), Nay
McCain (R-AZ), Nay
McConnell (R-KY), Nay
Moran (R-KS), Nay
Paul (R-KY), Nay
Portman (R-OH), Nay
Risch (R-ID), Nay
Roberts (R-KS), Nay
Rubio (R-FL), Nay
Sessions (R-AL), Nay
Shelby (R-AL), Nay
Thune (R-SD), Nay
Toomey (R-PA), Nay
Vitter (R-LA), Nay
Wicker (R-MS), Nay

As a vet I got a real simple solution for the V.A. give everybody medical benefits when they get out.  Don’t bother with long waits or complicated paperwork, just give us vets our benefits, and then audit them periodically and down grade from there simple solution that won’t fix all the problems, but its better than this broke system we have now.

Pat Patterson

Nov. 12, 2012, 2:40 p.m.

One thing I learned early on in my 32 year career was to always make copies of important military records and most important, my medical record.  Never trust someone else to do it for you.  On my three last deployments I wrote a daily diaries of all my activities; in total some 2000 pages.  Every veteran should have received copies of their DD-214s.

As bad as it is, this is nothing new. All services, especially the Army have been loosing/errasing/burning records since world war II. There are thousands of Korea and Viet Nam veterans living in poverty and unable to get medical help because the foolishly decided it was the right thing to do to serve their country.
  I agree with one comment about how you should save a copy of every record the military issues reguardless of how unimportant it seems. This is especially true of medigal records. Something as simple as a sick call slip to pick up cold medicine will at least establish you were at a certain location.
  I served 23 years active and reserve and the V.A said I had no record of being in the Army.  It has taken me 9 years to rebuild about 50% of my records.
  Keep in mind that just two years ago two VA hospitals were caught burning vet’s thousands of 201 files on their back loading docks.

After serving in both the USMC and USAF, I can attest to the sloppy records from SOME of these groups.  After being discharged from my Marine Corps tour in 1970, and joining the USAF in 1971, I had noticed a strange thing in my USMC medical records.  I, from then on, kept all my records and tdy papers, etc. as hard copies of promotions, Performance reports, medical records, etc.  My files today are good as new.  I had proof of my disability, doctor’s reports, etc.The going was still tough to get my disability claims, but with a faithful wife and hard work with the DAV, I received both from the VA and the SSA.  Now I am on a personal campaign to tell as many people as I can on getting their records immediately, or to put it in this case, keep your own records as well.

I feel for ALL our men and women in uniform.  Our FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS NOT TAKING CARE OF YOU.  THIS IS WRONG FOR OUR NATION AND OUR MILITARY.  SOMEBODY HAS OUR RECORDS, PERHAPS, THE ENEMY?

No recordsor files can be missed if record keeping and transmission, submission etc. theirof done electronically (which top guys in our territorial Supreem Courts do not want to be implemented).

Robert Halliman

Nov. 12, 2012, 3:19 p.m.

I cannot believe there are no records.  People and units do not move without orders and those orders have to originate somewhere and get handed to others along the way.  A soldier being evacuated from a warzone to the U.S. has to have orders for the movement.  A soldier, going from the U.S. to a warzone as a replacement, must have orders in order to transit from one place to another.  Aircraft and ships involved in troop movements, must have manifests showing the names of everyone being transported.  My point is that there are records out there that can document who was where when.

Even in Viet Nam, units had to submit their morning report every day, that detailed the status of unit members.  I guess they do not do morning reports any more.

If there was one thing I learned from the military, it was to keep or get a copy of EVERY ORDER, ANY HAND RECEIPT, OR ANY DOCUMENT THAT REQUIRED MY SIGNATURE. That is Vital to anything you do in the Military. You cannot trust that anything will get done right. I once had a superior accuse me of stealing a typewriter. Forturnately for me, I kept a copy of a Hand Receipt that said I was issued that Typewriter. None the less he was very red faced after I came up with the copy of the Hand Receipt that he gave me.

Maybe the media should check the records of your “walk-on-water” General Petraeus’ girlfriend.  Maybe she has the records.  I’m a two-tour, decorated vet from the Vietnam era.  Our military leaders then were just as worthless as the current crop.  Amen brothers (and sisters) to the Randy Warren comment at the top of this; when are us Vets going to get a leader that will listen, and speak for us?  Lots of lip service from Washington, no action.

Karen Renneke

Nov. 12, 2012, 4:52 p.m.

And to all the military who thought your votes counted, well they lost those as well.

William Brookerd

Nov. 12, 2012, 4:55 p.m.

I am a veteran, seventy eight years old, served eight years active duty, four years in Georgia National guard, was deployed to Germany and North Africa, lost our oldest son and youngest daughter during the Kennedy administration’s Berlin Air lift and “Cuban Missle Crissis”. My wife and I decided there was abeter way to make a living. I lost confidence in our ‘Political Gurus’ due to broken promises, cut military budget at every opportunity (especially our pay). One year the enlisted members got a whopping six percent (6%) increase in pay according to the press (Army Times). After aduestment to downgrade my “Profficency Pay (P-2) to (P-1)” and adjustment for increase with holding for taxes”. I had an increase of thirty-five ($0.35) cents each month. Thanks a lot President Kennedy and the Democratic Congress.

I THINK THEY FEEL, IF THEY WAIT LONG ENOUGH TO PROCESS OUR CLAIMS WE WILL JUST FADE AWAY

The records they do keep are incorrect many times as well, as my medical records state that I denied loss of consciousness after two incidents. and I was clearly unconscious. I even stated so, but what I said is not what was written in my medical records. After one accedent my head was swollen so bad I could literally see my forhead and the entry was “patient believes his head is swollen”. MY FOREHEAD WAS STICKING OUT TO THE PINT I COULD SEE IT! I believe techs are trained to be careful of what they write that the military member could use later to claim benefits. I have been fighting the VA for 6 years on an appeal and they just sent me a letter saying they want the VA to examine me for migraines, WHERE did they get migraines from? What I have would put a migraine to shame. I am taking morphine to slow the pain down. I am sickened with the way they kept records 45 years ago.

As a Vietnam Vet and Vets Advocate (in addition to being a Cold War Historian),  I can attest the Vietnam record keeping was just as bad if not worse than what these GIs are experiencing.  The solution is manyfold:  brief active duty men/women to keep copies of all records from the beginning; make sure commendation certificates are kept safe; keep in contact with servicemembers/Vets after discharge; raise hell with your Congressional Members; find a Veterans Service Officer who is tenacious like a wolverine yet savvy enough to find records; and finally never forget this is not an entitlement, but a RIGHT-never let anyone tell you differently.  The USA has neglected her Vets since the Korean War and continues to do so…..make this a campaign issue with you Congress Reps and Senators and then watch a change.

All vets do not receive benefits if their records are available.  Many of us were told when we enlisted that we would have health benefits for life only to find they are conditions attached to them because we waited for years to seek the benefits.  Health benefits should be awarded to us as well as to those individuals whose records have been lost. We served this great Nation too.

Well first off let say after reading the posts I can say most are pure B.S. and have nothing to do with the problem. More like a bunch of trolls posting. There are problems in every system not just the military, it just so happens there are more in the Armed forces then any employer out there. I have had and still do with my health records (Try being in a special ops unit and see what happens to your records, I was back in the early 70’s the Army Rangers LRRPS). I’m also a Vietnam Vet and a Gulf War era vet. Missing personal and medical records are not uncommon in my field. Per exmple; I was put in for certain awards while leaving Vietnam, they show up in my “Field 214” But, not my “Official 214” therefore getting me into trouble. In 1984 I requested for the NSA a copy of my records, they sent me some records I have never seen before ie,  Interviews for my clearance’s and some health records I have never seen, one was for when I was in the hostipal in 1967 in Cu Chi, Vietnam 25th Inf Div for “Battle Fatigue”. I said to my self I need to put this record away for I will need it. Well I put it away to good and can’t find it. Since then I wrote the NSA twice (Have the letters) that say I don’t exist. So I tried the FBI got the same reply. Now I’m a retired CWO and a Retired Fed Gov’t empolyee and either way I have to had a security clearnace (Once I was the assit security officer for my unit). But nobody has a record of me? Now go figure…I did manage to get most of my health records I think…It took awhile but not the one for being in the hostipal in Vietnam. With Obama being in office I’m not about to make any waves, he gets away with any thing and every thing and the Chief of Homeland Security made her point about Vietnam vets…I’m getting some VA disability so I let the dogs lay where they are for now…Have to wait longer until Obama and hos thugs are out of office, thought we had it this time, but for some unknown reason he was re-elected…

It is no more complicated than the willingness to use people to promote short term success.

on medline’s news today, the VA has quite the list of veterans from all wars and are categorized as such, have almost all veterans accounted for, who is using VA services with SC or nSC conditions, locations they were at when certain events occurred, Al Jabayl and Khamisiyah included. When I had to search for a single visit record, it was after hours of sorting through unfiled SF ER visits, that were left unfiled by clerks, just sitting there, I didn’t see anything outstanding and did not find my single visit, though it may have caught up later.

In fact, the article and va site suggests if has records to over 30 years ago, while this maybe most current, they have records on everyone. Esp if it has to with any chemical or radiation exposure, not by accident, but routine medical care. see also the ICRP 2012 for what radiation ,xrays, CT’s do to all body systems. read ACHRE final report, lot more in there than the books on this situation. It only got worse, not better. Say NO to xray and CT scans and notoroious metal for magnets MRI scans.

Are the records, hidden with the Bush/Brenner missing $billion in 2003? Are records being lost or erased, to protect War Criminals?

wParnel, not sure about those finance records.
Dennis Rick, most posts here are not BS. They are from a different point of view. Have you contacted your Congressman’s VA liaison and requested a copy of your DOD records? They’ll send you the form, or it may be online.  Other than warehouse fires or aircraft disasters, records are kept. Though scattered or in research offices of medical centers, they don’t have them all in just medical records, there are several types of medical records libararies, they don’t want you to know this. What the hell they are studying is beyond me. What more do they need to know how to incapacitate a soldier on the battlefield, destroy the food supply, chemical or radiation mutations/somatic or heritable, angry or sad, I’ll tell you what, It MAKES people MAD, soldier, vet or civilian to be studied by the elite or control group.that’s what you fking researchers should know. We don’t care about your studies of humans when it’s obvious what is affected. We do care when you discriminate for all sorts of imagined reasons not to compensate. Study THAT and PAY UP!

The VA should be able to bump the Army (Air Force, USMC, and Navy) Active Duty payroll system to verify duty in Afghanistan or Iraq. Soldiers draw various entitlements like foreign duty and combat pay for serving in a war zone. They are also placed in a tax exempt status. This (using field records) makes no sense whatsoever. It’s a simple file match against the duty location section of the veteran’s payroll account or even his/her entitlements or payroll tax section.

(Disclaimer: I am a retired Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) Systems Manager and Senior Business Systems Analyst.)

This is so disgusting, shameful, irresponsible, damaging to our country’s conscious which is trying to heal from too many holes. Mr. Rick you can’t wait for the next president, I gather a Republican? yet you did not read what mr. sgambati wrote prior to your detrite on the president.  notice there are no democrats who denied. so let your sleeping dog lay, sounds like perhaps you have been suffering from PTSD, perhaps you should reconsider obamacare you suffer from a damaging prior condition called magnanimous ignorance. but, I digress.  this problem after reading at length, has been going on for what seems forever when it comes to our men and now women being killed or injured for the defense or purportedly safety of our land and it’s people and the rights of other’s.  Now, if one of you gentlemen could tell me what woman in the past, present or future has started a war, not a defense of a war, perhaps we wouldn’t be having this problem.at all! Great thing is that if it was a woman ensuring the safety of her troops, she would make it of utmost importance to maintain a record in order to be able to explain to a mother, wife, et al, the reason why and how her child died or got injured! but at last we women are deceptive and probably worse than men because we use our guilde to trick you imbeciles (men) to stop thinking with your little heads and stomachs! but at last, we are just engineered with our own predisposed ignorances and futile attempt to control each other, instead of working together. at this time, though, we must stick together and demand these records to be sought be it by interviewing those who have survived and gather details of battles or situations and recorded. instead of wasting precious time and allowing this catastrophe to continue, while we point fingers.  Our children are suffering now and need us now, not tomorrow, it just may never come for many of these young honorable children, who have valiantly fought for us!  It’s a shame to see these individuals walking our streets like scattered beggars with so much psychological problems after fighting a war they did not began, but volunteered to serve in order to protect the majority, and it’s this same majority that shuns them.  They are good enough to take a bullet, but not good enough to house and feed! For shame! If these honorable men/women are incapable of maintaining a decent job, the least we could do is to make sure they receive the care they deserve.  We as a nation would be honored by the world and setting an example for other nations. Mic your correct, “just to promote short term succeess” by a selected few who we vote into congress and want to continue engorging their pockets! the president, no matter who he/she may be, can only do but so much, no body wins with a house devided. and all clamoring for power and riches. this is the only president who has shown true desire to fix a house that is over 200 years old, with leaky pipes, and instead of calling a plumbers, they call on a lawyers! Idiots!Let’s get this fixed correctly, too many holes, gentlemen, and winter’s wrath is just around the corner!

dfas.gov does list compensations types and the LES should show pay made under these circumstances. DD214’s also show deployments. DOD has medical records and historical records. DFAS would not show what occurred re compensation claims, only they received it. Many not deployed in combat zones, did receive extra pay when stateside and extra pay when in hazardous duty environment. Believe me, they keep records until you die. 04/RN

An Army of One until they no longer need you, all this “Hero” worship and “respect” for those that serve and this is what you get.  I don’t see any outrage from the American people or Congress.

America is too busy with the latest Twilight movie as well as the later James Bond flick, got no time for “hero” worship.

After 8 years the V.A. responds with “not wounded while on active duty”. Try fighting this one. My unit has no records showing I was wounded, but they do have the medivac report, reports from the three hospitals that treated me. Try being a burn patient placed in the V.A. system that denied your claim.

Unfortunately, lost records do happen even when units do their best to maintain the records.  As a USMC infantry company commander, my medical record and the records of about 20 of my Marines were lost in transit between Afghanistan and the USA.  One box of records did not show up when we landed stateside, and we never found out what happened to it.  It’s sad that the DVA makes it hard to document claims when the records are missing.  Many of the Marines with lost records had suffered from non-purple heart injuries during the deployment and are now not able to prove the treatment they received while in Afghanistan.  Ultimately, it’s the commander’s responsibility to ensure that the corpsman are maintaining the records throughout deployment and that every injury or treatment is documented.  However, once the records are turned over to another unit, commanders don’t have the ability to track what physically happens to the hard copy of the records.  E-copies of records are great, but most front line units don’t have access to computer data bases and computers in country and keep hard copies until they return to the states.

As an IT guy, I just have to say this is appalling!  “Backups?  What’re those?”  It’s very difficult to believe that the most powerful military force on the planet is also the most incompetent at saving its servicemen’s history.  This’s the second time’s this’s happened?

Why am I unemployed?  You can do better than this.  Why you don’t flummoxes me.

Why does someone like this have to spend years futzing around with lawyers, et al, to prove he’s due the military’s consideration?!?

[Thanks Propublica (and PBS) for the notify.]

Damn.

Actually it goes all the way bavk o Vietnam. I retired from USAF Jan31, 1980. When you retire your health records are supposed to be sent a repository from which you can get a copy. The only records on file at the repository are my enlistment physical. Two tours in Vietnam. If I had not keep copies of orders sending me there I would have never been able to prove I served in Vietnam.

We experienced this very issue. Five years ago it was deny, deny and deny some more. During war time, the requirement for higher ups to keep records or to get them back to the US, was not a priority. For those who served in classified missions, its even harder. Does it and has it happened? Most definitely. The VA stating you don’t have to have these records is a joke to all of us. They make it so hard and when you do have records, at least you have something to fight back with. The first thing they want to do is ask for CIB.CAB or military records so you can show them you aren’t making it all up. We were told connexes were shipped out in 07 never to arrive in the US. Scary thought all these service members information is just “lost”, even funnier that electronic copies they are supposed to have suddenly get erased as well. I am glad this issue was brought to light.

I’m telling you they HAVE the records. Do a Congressional Inquiry and stay on this. Local/regional VA offices have them. Yes they do. If anyone does,they do have them. They tried pulling that stunt on me when I had given them copies of civilian records and the traveling MD said she could not find any information on me. She called local Univ MD who told her I’m very reliable. she could not believe the the very strange DNA diagnosis I have. So. for pictures and reports to be cleansed of the system is outrageous. I have the records, just want all radiation exposures,  active duty and VA. They know why. If this country can track the 18 people injected with Pu for their entire lifetime, they have your records. The deployment manifest should have the entire group deployed. I have mine from 91, complete w SSNs. all 200 of us. Some of these VA directors need to be called out. This code of silence crap is dying out. This protection of their lack of work/friends, nepotism and other cronies is overwith.  The military tells you from day 1 , never give your last copy. Come on. Do a Freedom of Information request. We were told if any gov’t agency has your name and keeps a system of records, they have to respond.  The records are there. Hoarding records by researchers is their problem.  see Gulf War Syndrome and Depleted Uranium Dr. Rosalie Bertell. Another fkg experiment. We were lied to by that goofy psych team trying to tell us no chem exposures. We almost kicked them out. Khamisiyah March 91 sound familiar? We were downwind. Clear day, sarin plume. FkUPs!

USARC, 81ST RSC/RRC, 3RD PERSCOM and 461ST PSB entire command should be in jail for what they did to the soldiers of the 461st PSB in 2003 - 2004.  The soldiers of 461st PSB HQ, DET 1,DET 2 and DET 3 was given orders that was hand type and shipped to Kuwait/Iraq to protect Kellogg Brown & Root truck drivers as they drove 18” wheel truck with us(461st psb soldiers out of decatur ga)in the cab with the kbr driver providing security for kbr driver’s as the deliver the mail(THAT ALONG IS A CRIME OF ATTEMPTED MURDER BY PUTTING THE LIFE’S OF SERVICE MEMBERS IN THE HAND OF A CIVILIAN TRUCK DRIVER IN COMBAT). Now, that is a good reason for the commanders of those units mention above to make it appear as if the record of 461st psb tour to kuwait/iraq are lost.  Now, this what they did to us.  WE WAS ON ACTIVE DUTY BUT NOT ACTIVE COMPONENT, ACTIVE DUTY IN THE RESERVE COMPONENT IS ANNUAL TRAINING/ACTIVE DUTY FOR TRAINING.  IN THAT “STATUS” THEIR IS NOT A RECORD GENERATED.  Now, are you getting the picture NO RECORD NO PROOF.  BUT, WE ARE A PERSONNEL UNIT AND WE KNOW HOW IMPORTANT RECORDS ARE.  WE HAVE THE EVIDENCE TO PROVE YOU DID THIS TO US.  And if it is GOD’S WILL RIGHTEOUS AND TRUTH WILL PREVAIL.  SO I SAY TO ALL OF YOU DON’T STOP PRAYING AND FIGHTING FOR RIGHTEOUS AND TRUTH.

Why hasn’t this incredible story reached and persisted on the front pages of every paper and website across the nation?!  This urgent story merits the immediate attention of both president and congress. Who authorized this reprehensible behavior (Dick Cheney?)  clearly must have intended to destroy any evidence of their malfeasance or dereliction of duty as there are no rational explanations sufficienct to destroy the records of hundreds of thousands of service men and women that rely on this information for career advancement, family and/or medical services relevant to their and their faimily’s futures.

“Why hasn’t this incredible story reached and persisted on the front pages of every paper and website across the nation?!”

You’ve got me.  I posted it to Slashdot.org, but they didn’t deem it pertinent enough to relay it.  For me, this is disgusting on so many levels.  IT should not lose data!  The military should not be losing service members’ histories!  Historians shouldn’t have to beg the military to keep accurate records!  Service members shouldn’t have to drag the government into court to prove they did what they did!

Disgusting.  Wipe hard drives before handing machines off to those relieving you, without checking that the data’s been saved somewhere?!?  Are you nuts?

““Why hasn’t this incredible story reached and persisted on the front pages of every paper and website across the nation?!”
You’ve got me.”
BTW (FYI), I’m a Canuck, not US-ian.  If it were the Canadian military doing this !@#$, I’d probably be in jail right now (for pounding relentlessly on the closest politician’s face).

I just thought I ought to mention that.  You guys owe it to your veterans to fix this.  :-|

Juan Harris/Pvt.USMC

Nov. 14, 2012, 11:31 p.m.

As I read these many and varied replies, what becomes instantly clear is is the lack of a knowledge of the suppressed history of the Military of this Nation and the For-Profit Military Industrial Complex. IMHO The book; “War Is A Racket” by Maj.Gen.USMC ret.Smedley D Butler <www.warisaracket> should be read by every Vet that stepped forward and swore the Oath to defend and uphold the Constitution.

  When the information in Butler’s book is combined with the forgotten history of The Bonus Army <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonus_Army> it will provide an accurate perspective of exactly what,  how and who the “mushrooms” are in this Nation and why the Mormon Mushroom farmer didn’t get my vote. This is assuming that you all know that mushrooms are grown by keeping them in the dark and fertilizing them with BS. But it’s been that way since the inception of this Idea of exploitation of an indigenous people thought to be savages. Google “The Doctrine of Discovery”, the authority under which Columbus allegedly discovered this dual-hemisphere continent of America and assimilated the indigenous folk he found here as subjects of the Spanish King and Queen, as an option to their genocide. The foundation for this Royal decree was first authorized by the alleged Apostolic Papal Bull of Pope Nicholas-V in 1541. This document is also is online decreeing that all Saracens either convert to Christianity or burn at the stake(the Inquisitions). This doctrine still permeates all of the colonies and former colonies of Great Britain as documented in The Origins of The London Company, The Pirate Queen and Her Sea Dogs and the book Emigrants In Chains by Peter Wilson Coldham.
  The relevance of these references is to create a framework for the document you have sworn an oath to. That document establishes two classes of persons who were/are to inhabit these former British Colonies. One is addressed as [The People] the other as [Chattel Property] enumerated only as 3/5 of a person without any authority to make decisions regarding their well being or welfare, as Coldham documents in his Emigrants in Chains. This group was easily duped into believing the spiel of Jefferson’s Declaration that All Men are Created equal with unalienable Rights by their Creator and formed a Militia to rebel against the Crown. This was the original cannon-fodder exploited by the 5% of the rebelling Elites to free themselves of the British yoke. Remember none of this Chattel Property-Class had a beef with the Crown regrading taxation without Representation. They were either the indentured or enslaved, transported to these colonies as an unpaid labor resource for sundry crimes committed in London and were offered the option of indenture instead of hanging.
  After Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown and the 13 American Colonies became the united States, the Elites, this time without Jefferson, devised a Constitutional document declaring their intent amongst themselves and for their Posterity’s well fare and protection. This is The Preamble to that Constitutional document which excludes any of the Chattel Property Class; they’re still enumerated as only 3/5 of a person without any rights to participate in the politcal process of this New Nation they’d fought and died for. We-the-People were never to allow their Chattle-Property to sully the Elite Genetic Purity of their Posterity by the inferior blood-lines of Chattel-property. Oh how they tried; passing laws,floggings, but those differing ethnicities under the same onerous oppression,found solace in each others arms after the masters lights were extinguished, resulting in many a mullatto. Google the bios of Ona Judge, one of Geo.Washington’s mullatta slaves he’d acquired via his marriage to the widow Martha Custice. Onas father was the Washingtons white indentured bookkeeper.
  As we apprise our selves of this history and then read the words on the plaque in the hands of the Stature of Liberty; “Send Me All who Yearn for Freedom”, how many of you descendants of European Emigrants have asked yourselves how and through what process did you became the Genetic Posterity of the Authors of the Constitution?  If you were really the Posterity of those Authors, you’d not have to worry about your Healthcare. Only the descendants of The Chattle Property Workingclass either have that worry or rely on god to be their doctor.

If ur interested in history, check out “The Nature of Life” by Anton Glotser, its very informative and covers lots of interesting topics.

J. Don Horton

Nov. 24, 2012, 2:57 p.m.

This sort of action has been ongoing since the Revolutionary War and and every war since.  A reccent article in the Seattle times brought forth the same problem to some 10,000 to 30,000 Merchant Mariners who served without official credentials and no one maintained any records except the Social Security Administration but the USCG will not accept those records .  The USCG maitains that the law requires certain records and they will not recognized those that served as veterans unless they have the specified records identified by law.  Ironically, some of those that served were women, some school children ande elderly handicapped seamen.  They served, were paid wages and taxes were withheld and they served alongside other who had the proper credentials.

Many of those records were destroyed by direct orders from agencies of the government because they were too costly to keep and too burdensome to maintain. Otheres were withheld from the mariner by direct order of the Commandant USCG.  Still others were denied their offical credentials due to their age, gender or disability.  WE call this discrimination today and no one wants to correct this travesty even after almost 70 years.

We have asked our Senators to introduce a bill in the Senate that will correct this problem but it seems to fall on deaf ears.  You may read more about this at a blog;  usmmv.blogspot.com.  Contact me if you wish to help at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Lost to History

Lost to History: When War Records Go Missing

U.S. Centcom and dozens of Army units destroyed or failed to keep field records documenting the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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