Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My grandfather had a WWI pension - he wasn't wounded - why did he have a pension?

Q: I have my grandfather's World War I payroll records and his discharge. However, I know that he collected a veterans' pension until his death in1973, and then my grandmother received a widow's pension until she died in 1976. Since his discharge clearly states that he was not wounded in the war, I would like to see his pension records to determine on what basis he collected a pension. Since he served 1918-1919, those records are not available through NARA. How can I access them?

A: Pension benefits for World War I veterans evolved over the years. Basically the rule of thumb for a pension was having served for 90 days. See: Veteran's Administration guidelines.

The National Archives has set up a special site for requesting these records. The son or daughter of a WWI veteran should use that site to request his records.

As the granddaughter, you may access the records of retired veterans from World War I to the present at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO.

You need to use Standard Form SF-180 Military Records Request Form to request those records. Click on the link to get a copy of that form. Simply complete the form and submit it to the appropriate mailing address listed on the form.

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