Ancestry.com has added this database to their list. The database description says::
"This index contains birth and death dates for more than 14 million veterans who served during the years 1800–2010.
"What’s in the Records
The BIRLS (Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem) Death File is a Veterans Benefits Administration database that lists the names of deceased individuals who had received benefits from the Veterans Administration while they were alive. These include veterans who received educational benefits and veterans’ survivors who applied for benefits. Details listed in the index can include
- birth date
- death dates
- cause of death (unknown, natural, combat, other)
- branch(es) of service
- enlistment date(s)
- release date(s)
I searched for my grandfather's record. Here's the Search form for the database:
I entered only a surname - "Carringer" in the search field (with Exact Matches checked) and received four matches:
My grandfather, Lyle L. Carringer, was at the top of the list. Here is the record for him:
The data shown is:
Name: Lyle Lawrence Carringer
Birth Date: 2 Nov 1891
Death Date: 5 Nov 1976
Enlistment Date 1: 7 May 1917
Release Date 1: 29 Apr 1919
Note that there is only the index record, with no image. There are several very useful bits of information in that record. I don't think I knew his enlistment date or his release date from the U.S. Marines.
I also input "Seaver" in the Search field, and saw 247 matches. My father was number 10 on the list:
This record has only his name, gender, SSN, birth date and death date. Unfortunately, it does not list his enlistment date or release data for his United States Navy service. It also has an error - it lists his birth date as 26 May 1893 - it was really 15 October 1911. I think that is an input error, since he died 26 May 1983.
This database provides useful data for U.S. military veterans - including the Social Security Number (which is also the military ID number, I think). A researcher could use that number to obtain military service records and/or the Social Security SS-5 Application.
UPDATED 4 November:
Reader Geolover commented:
"This database has an extremely high number of data-entry errors as to dates of birth (especially) and death. Some men were born and died the same day, many supposedly born 1845 or before, served in WWI or WWII and died after the 1960s.
"There are no Civil War pensioners in the database."