Have you used the FamilySearch (also on Ancestry without an image) Veterans Administration Master Index 1917-1940 database? If you had a family member who served in the military between those dates, this is a must-use database. This database was the first digital asset Reclaim the Records obtained from NARA. Be sure to check them out and the work they are doing to make genealogical and military records more accessible.
The VA Index Cards provide a lot of useful genealogical and military research information, especially if there is a unit on the index card and you are researching Army or Air Corps/Army Air Forces service. Without a unit, you cannot currently have Morning Reports searched at NPRC in St. Louis as there is no master index of all the men or women who were in each unit. These cards are also helpful when researching WWI service.
Let’s look at an example and talk about what we find on the card.
As you look at the card you will notice the following:
- Unit (sometimes the unit is just an enlistment or discharge unit which may take you nowhere)
- Address at discharge
- Serial/service number
- Birth date, enlistment date, death date, discharge date
- A bunch of letters which are codes
What exactly do the letters mean for codes? Well you can investigate that in NARA’s PDF on the Index Codes. Depending on which codes have numbers beside them, you might be able to dive down other research rabbit holes and request other records.
Please note if you need WWII era and beyond VA Index Cards, those are held at the NPRC in St. Louis. This is one record we request when doing client projects.
Are You Ready to Start Writing and Researching?
I would love to help you research and write the stories of your family members from World War I – Vietnam. If you are ready to start a research or writing project, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s set up a free phone consultation. I’m excited to help you bring your family’s military history to life and preserve it for generations. Also visit the Ancestral Souls Wisdom School to learn how a Genogram Session can help you identify your ancestor’s trauma and patterns and start to heal.
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