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Get a copy of your or a loved one’s military records

If your parents are no longer alive, probably not a day goes by that you don’t miss them. I know — I feel that about my father. During the Korean War, he served in the Army and later worked as a management employee for United Airlines.

Now that he’s gone, I miss him every single day. His military medals shine under my office lights, proudly displayed so I can honor his memory. They reaffirm how brave and selfless he was and how I can be just like him, too.

If you want to know more about the service of a loved one, an amazing site offers many resources about our country’s heroes. If you haven’t explored this tremendous resource, take a moment now.

How this amazing database can help you

The veterans’ section of the National Archives website allows you to request a family member’s service records. You can use its web form or download and print the necessary documents.

Usually, these documents are used to request veterans’ benefits, but they can be a fantastic way to memorialize a veteran in your family too. For example, the government provides free headstones for fallen service members.

Military honors and medals are an important symbol of pride and honor, but sadly they can get lost or begin to show their age over time. If you know where to look, you can request new medals to commemorate your family member’s service. Just know that the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) does not issue service medals itself.

“That is a function of each military service department,” the NPRC says on its website. To replace a medal, you’ll have to reach out to the specific branch of the military in which the veteran served. Tap or click here for instructions on requesting military awards and decorations.

Photos, research, genealogy and more

Even if your mother or father didn’t serve in the military, you could still enjoy researching the databases. You’ll find entire web pages dedicated to historical events, from the Spanish Flu of 1918 to the 1945 Battle of Iwo Jima.

The site also hosts a virtual genealogy fair, which offers advice on using federal records to research your family’s history. If you’ve ever wanted to unearth the secrets of your family tree, there’s no better starting point.

While surfing through the website, I got lost browsing through all the breathtaking photos from World War II. Take some time to look through them yourself.

Order service records online:

Medical records:

Military Research:

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