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Rep. Mike Garcia (CA-25) joined a bipartisan group of 185 lawmakers, including House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Member Mike Bost, in sending a letter to President Joe Biden and the Director of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) urging swift action to address the growing backlog of veterans claims.

As of March 8, there was a backlog of approximately 480,00 record requests from veterans and their families at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), which resulted in delaying those veterans from receiving their benefits.

“Hospitals around the country have continuously operated throughout the pandemic because they provide essential services. The NPRC is equally important. Without the records it provides, veterans are deprived of Veterans Health Administration services, from routine preventative care to cancer treatment or mental health services. The administration must confront the reality that the NRPC’s operation is essential and must ensure that it reopens immediately and operates at its maximum capacity – just as hospitals, drug manufacturers, and grocery stores have done throughout the pandemic,” the lawmakers wrote.

In the letter, the lawmakers urged that NPRC prioritize vaccinations and testing for NPRC employees, properly staff the call center, and institute a plan to fully staff the NPRC to eliminate the growing backlog.

“We cannot allow our nation’s veterans to die while waiting for a piece of paper to prove they are entitled to medical services,” the lawmakers wrote. “We cannot continue to abandon military families arranging burial services for their family members. The United States government must correct the injustice.”