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Dallas County Recorder’s Office indexes and images veteran records electronically

The old rolodex containing Dallas County military records was recently replaced with an electronic filing system.
The old rolodex containing Dallas County military records was recently replaced with an electronic filing system.

The Dallas County Recorder’s Office recorded its first military separation record on January 2, 1919. During that period in the early 1900s Ruth Sumner was recorder. Today, Dallas County Recorder Chad Airhart has completed a project, indexing and imaging 95 years worth of recorded military separation records.

Since the first filing in 1919 nearly 14,000 Dallas County veterans recorded their separation papers. In the early 1900s, prior to the creation of the Department of Defense, each branch of the military issued its own separation papers that were handwritten and transcribed by the recorder. DD Form 214s were first issued to veterans upon separation in 1950.

Airhart stated, “The system that was in place in the recorder’s office when I took office in 2011 was a hand filing system. The records were kept in book, but the index of these records was an old rolodex card filing system. What this meant was that if a rolodex card was lost or misfiled, we may not be able to retrieve the record. From day one I felt our veterans deserved better than this.”

Records are now electronically indexed and imaged. These images can be called up electronically and printed by staff, saving time spent checking the rolodex, retrieving the record from the book and photocopying it to produce a certified copy. In the new electronic index the records were indexed from the actual image, ensuring that each and every record is accounted for in the electronic index, something that could not be assured under the old rolodex system.

Dallas County Veterans Director Ed Vos said, “This new computer system will be a great help to me, helping the veterans of Dallas County.”

These records contain information normally needed to verify military service for benefits, retirement, employment and membership in veterans’ organization. Information shown on these records include: date and place of entry in active duty, home address at time of entry, date and place of release from active duty, home address after separation, last duty assignment and rank, military job speciality, military education, decorations, medals, badges, citations, campaign awards, total creditable service, foreign service credited and separation information (type of separation, character of service, authority and reason for separation, separation and reenlistment eligibility codes).

“We don’t like to think about the possibility of fire or a tornado, but we must prepare for them,” said Airhart. “With this new system, we ensure that in the event of a disaster we will have the military records of Dallas County veterans protected, and in the worst of circumstances we will be able to provide them certified copies so they can get the benefits they have earned and deserve.”

The Dallas County Recorder’s Office recently completed a major project, indexing and imaging land and real estate records back to 1971. No other county in Iowa has this many years of real estate records indexed and imaged.

“Having these records electronically available not only provides ease of access to the records, but it provides a disaster recovery element for the county’s real estate and military records. Dallas County residents can be proud of this system as it ensures continuity of the recorder’s office in the event of a disaster,” added Airhart.

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