Anyone who has served in a branch of the U.S. military or the Coast Guard knows the special bonds between servicemen, especially during times of conflict. In earlier years, finding an old war buddy or someone you served with might have been difficult. With modern technology, it takes much less effort than it used to.
Find a Veteran by Name
If you know details about whom the veteran you’re looking for served with, you already have plenty to run with for a quick Google search. In addition to typing a name into a search engine, try entering any other details you know. Maybe try searching by the unit the person served in and the location, like U.S. 4th Infantry Regiment, Fort Carson, Colorado, for instance. The person’s birthdate, service number, or dates when they served might also help come up with some results.
Using an online people locator or background check service can also help you find a veteran. A reputable background check service like CheckThem searches millions of federal, state, and county public records in seconds to find a person by first and last name. A standard background check would show the person served in a branch of the military, or the coast guard, just as it would show a work history.
Some veterans service organizations offer help in finding a veteran by name. The VFW and American Legion maintain member directories, locator services, and reunion directories. The Department of Veterans Affairs will forward a message to a veteran or active service member, but they cannot release personal information. The department can only forward a message if the veteran has filed a claim and their address is on file.
Find a Veteran on Social Media
Younger vets are probably on social media, so it makes sense to check Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. This kind of search is quick, easy, and free. Many veteran organizations have Facebook pages, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, Vets Helping Vets, and veterans advocacy group, Supporting Our Veterans.
Find a Marine
Some branches of the military have special services set up to find active or former service members. The U.S. Marine Corps Community Services has a locator service operated out of its Personnel Management Support Branch. You can call them between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday at (703) 784-3941.
You can also try the Separations and Retirement Branch to find a former or retired member of the Marine corps. They accept requests for assistance through email at email@example.com. The MCCS does not provide information on Marines currently deployed.
The U.S. Army, Air Force, and Navy do not provide much direct assistance finding veterans. Their services are mostly used to find members on active duty. But there are other services you can try. The Association of the U.S. Army, Air Force Association, Navy League, and Marine Corps League might offer some leads.
Find a Former Military Friend
Together We Served is a service set up in 2003 designed to help veterans contact each other. The organization manages an archive of records to help locate former service members of all five branches, including the Coast Guard. TWS claims to be the largest existing online community of veterans with close to 2 million members. Veterans post their personal information, along with photos and other memorabilia.
Veterans set up their service profile by entering the name of their boot camp, unit, or duty station, and time frames of where they were stationed. TWS will provide a list of all other members the veteran served with, along with their contact information. TWS also hosts forums and enables vets to create their own scrapbooks of their time in service to share with family and friends.
Vetfriends.com is a website designed for veterans and old military friends to find each other and share memories. Family and friends are also welcome to use it. You can search by name and military branch, but there is a fee to get results.
Military.com runs a buddy finder to help a vet find someone they served with. It searches more than 20 million records from Military.com and Missing Buddy databases, Department of Defense personnel records, and the White Pages. The service is free.
Google has a free tool designed to help veterans find each other. VetConnect provides a contact network on Google+. Vets can sign in with their Google+ account.
Other Ways to Find a Veteran
Non-veterans can get help from the National Archives Military Personnel Record Center by sending a snail mail request. You send a letter to the MPRC asking for help in your search along with as much information as you know about the veteran. Along with the person’s name, you should try to include their social security number, birth date, unit the person served in, and the time of service.
Include a letter that you want to be forwarded to the vet. Similar to the Veterans Administration, the MPRC can’t release personal information, but it will forward a letter to the vet if they have an address on record. Unseal the letter, because the MPRC will review it to make sure it is appropriate.
It’s definitely not a preferred outcome, but if all else fails, you can check the federal government’s grave locator for the possibility the vet you’re looking for is deceased. The VA grave locator has information from VA National Cemeteries, state veterans’ cemeteries, and private cemeteries if the grave is designated with a government grave marker.
How to Find Veterans Through the Veterans History Project
The Veterans History Project run by the Library of Congress is another way to find a veteran. You can browse the website by searching the letter of the last name of the vet you’re looking for. Veterans are cataloged in alphabetical order with archived material that includes photographs and sound recordings. You can narrow your search by last name, military branch, state of residence, or race and ethnicity.
If you need help looking for a veteran or former military friend, CheckThem has the technology to help you with your search.