Monday, December 12, 2011

Not Just Military Files

Tucked In Military Files
Sometimes you just get lucky. But the key is knowing what is possible and then your eyes are peeled and your hopes are high.  So what documents may be found in a veteran’s service file?  I’m not talking about the normal DD214, or discharge papers or their draft records and enlistment papers. So much more genealogical data and history can be uncovered.

Proof of Naturalization
Here’s a copy of a US Navy veteran’s Proof of Naturalization. It is here that I have been able to open a case wide open.  The actual Naturalization Petition Number and Certification Number are both provided with the US District Court and the date of citizenship.

This was the “father’s” naturalization, suggesting that the son (the veteran) was a minor at the time of his father’s naturalization on 4 Feb 1929.

Proof of Birth
Proof of birth ensconced in military files is not uncommon for immigrants or 1st generation. In lieu of a country’s birth certificate, official government papers (i.e. Declaration of Intent, Naturalization, or Passport) could be used to verify birth place and birth date.  Here we are given the birthplace of Coatbridge, Scotland and the date of birth as 5 June 1918.  A bonus is reaped when the parents are named.

Parent’s names can offer one of two prizes: 1) verification that you have the correct family (if you were looking for a John C with the parents of John. and Margaret). And, 2) If you didn’t already know the parent’s names, you do now!

Life Insurance
How many times have you accessed a veteran’s file to search for “military information” and looked over the Life Insurance? Excuses range from “it didn’t have information on where he was stationed” to I was looking for his troop and company information.”  As genealogists we don’t have the luxury of limiting military records to military data.

Through the years life insurance programs have been offered to Veterans.

WWI - Beginning in 1917 the War Risk Insurance was offered to over 4 million veterans.  Enrollment for veterans was available until 1951.

WWII - The National Service Life Insurance, as seen here, was a WWII program that began 8 Oct 1940. Policies were issued to over 22 million veterans. This program terminated 25 April 1951 (no new policies).

For more information on Korean War, 1951, to Present Day insurance offerings to veterans, visit the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) website. 

Full names of the veteran, and of the parents or spouses, are given on insurance records. Children may be listed also. Because full, official, names are needed, you may find a mother’s or spouse’s maiden name; or a mother’s remarried name on these documents. You are surely going to find a residence address along with the veteran’s birth date and place.

So much more is in the veterans’ service file than military history.

Kathleen Brandt
accurate, accessible answers

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