Washington Examiner

House Republicans reportedly suggest prohibiting public access to military service records.

A Group of Conservative Lawmakers Seek to Protect Military Service Records

A group of conservative lawmakers is taking action to safeguard the privacy of military service records. This initiative comes in response to a recent incident where the Air Force mistakenly leaked the service records of congressional Republicans.

The House Appropriations Committee, as reported by NBC News, is considering a bill that would require individuals to request access to military service records through the Freedom of Information Act. Additionally, the targeted person would need to provide consent for the release of their records.

Protecting Personal Information

Currently, certain information can be released without notification or consent, including the service member’s full name, rank, duty assignments, awards, and more, according to the Department of Defense.

This information is often used by employers to verify an individual’s military service. However, if the proposed bill becomes law, the process of verifying an applicant’s background would become more challenging and time-consuming. Freedom of Information Act requests are often backlogged and can take months to fulfill.

Recent Incidents Highlight the Need for Change

The need for stricter regulations on the release of military service records was underscored by recent incidents involving the Air Force. During the 2022 midterm elections, private information about Reps. Don Bacon (R-NE), Zach Nunn (R-IA), and Jennifer-Ruth Green, a Republican congressional hopeful from Indiana, was improperly released.

The Air Force admitted its employees failed to follow proper procedures, resulting in the unauthorized release of private information. It is important to note that there was no evidence of political motivation or malicious intent on the part of any employee, according to Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.

One of the individuals affected, Jennifer-Ruth Green, did not sign the form that would have given the Air Force permission to release more detailed information about her. This incident highlights the importance of ensuring proper authorization and consent for the release of sensitive records.

An SF-180 form, which can include medical records and military personnel files, is typically used to request detailed information and aid in the replacement of lost medals.

By enacting legislation to protect military service records, lawmakers aim to safeguard the privacy and personal information of veterans and service members.

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