In your quest for World War I and World War II military records, have you obtained this important document? The WWI or WWII Veteran Compensation Application? Post WWI and WWII, veterans or their beneficiaries if they died in service, were entitled to a bonus payment. Not all states apparently participated in this program but if your state did, these records are held at the State Archive level. If you are seeking a discharge paper so you can begin research, you definitely want to see if the state in which your veteran lived after one of these wars has these files.
If you had a veteran from Korea, Vietnam or more current wars, bonus payments were also given to those veterans, at least in Illinois. Check with your state archives about access.
What You Need to Know About These Files
These files contain several documents such as KIA death telegrams; discharge papers; affidavits or family letters; applications; documents for amount paid to the individual or beneficiary, and more.
Each state has different access rules for WWI and WWII Veterans Compensation Payment Applications. In Illinois, WWI applications have been available for years. The WWII applications just became available this year on January 1, 2023. Check with your state archives for access. Please note: The Illinois State Archives also redacts the serial or service number on all pages they send you. They consider it personally identifiable information. In my opinion this is ridiculous because you can get the ASN or SN from NPRC or NARA or several places online. But that is what they told me when I asked why the number was blacked out on everything they’ve sent me.
Additionally for Illinois – there was a fire wherever the WWI Bonus Applications were held years ago and many of those applications are gone. I was able to get the one for my great grand uncle Michael Kokoska, who I wrote about in my book Stories of the Lost, available on this website. His file is burned around the edges but all the good info was intact. For others I have tried to get for WWI, especially late in the alphabet – they burned.
These files may be under many different names like: WWI/WWII Bonus Application. WWI/WWII Veteran Compensation Application. WWI/WWII Bonus Case Files. So be sure to check all possibilities.
Some of these files are partially online BUT you need to contact your state archives to get the entire file. Pennsylvania has them digitized on Ancestry. For those service members who survived the war, it is a 2-page application. You will want to contact the archives to get the entire file as it should contain many other pages including a discharge paper which is VITAL for those researching Army or Air Corps/Army Air Force individuals. There are a few more pages for those who were KIA in the war and lived in Pennsylvania but you still want to contact the archives for all pages. Iowa also has their 2-page application on Ancestry. Again, contact the state archives.
I can also report, from attempting to get these files for WWII from the New York State Archives – NY has them on microfilm offsite. It was quite the ordeal to get them to get the film from offsite storage and then search the film. All they came back with was a tax receipt that the veteran I was seeking was given a payment. I find it strange they didn’t have the application with that receipt because other states have all those records in one file.
Read Some Files
Here are the complete files for a couple of my family members so you can get an idea of what they contain, at least in Illinois.
Frank J. Kokoska – survived the war. Includes his discharge paper
James Privoznik – KIA 11 January 1945
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