Out of a concern for the safety and privacy of their servicemembers, all branches of the U.S. military have removed their web-based, online personnel locator services. The action, while understandable, has contributed to the rash of thieves lurking the internet preying on women by posing as U.S. soldiers looking for relationships.
Many of the scammers posing as soldiers claim to be serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Clearly, for the branches of the military to give any information that might help identify and locate personnel actually serving in combat zones could place them in even greater danger than they are already.
The absence of web-based personnel locators makes it much more difficult for women targeted by these despicable fake soldiers to confirm the true military status of their supposed suitors.
Offline Locators are Available: While the online personnel locators are gone, all branches of the military, except the U.S. Army, do provide offline personnel locator services that can be utilized only through the U.S. mail or by telephone.
While the procedures for using the various personnel locator services and the specific information they provide varies from branch to branch, there are some general details you should be aware of.
- When contacting any of the personnel locator services, be sure to give as much identifying information as possible about the person you wish to locate such as full name, rank, last duty assignment/last known military address, service number, and Social Security number.
- While the locator services are free to the service members' immediate family members and government officials, other family members, civilian friends, businesses and others must pay $3.50. The check or money order must be made out to the U.S. Treasury and is not refundable.
- Because of the large volume of requests the service locator receive, four full weeks should be allowed for the processing of written requests.
- The U.S. Army no longer provides a personnel locator service.
No Addresses Provided: None of the military personnel service locates will provide email or postal mailing addresses of servicemembers. "There is no comprehensive source for email addresses," states the Department of Defense. "Even if there were, military regulations and the Privacy Act of 1974 do not permit the military departments to provide home addresses or telephone numbers of service personnel. Moreover, regulations do not permit random dissemination of listings of names and addresses of service personnel."