What is a Veterans ID card and how do you get one? What are the other ways of proving your military service to government agencies and businesses?

As a gesture of gratitude to our nation’s modern day heroes, the federal government has entitled the country’s Veterans, reservists, and other military service members to receive some financial incentives for many services including legal assistance, health care, welfare activities, education, and most commonly, discounts from stores worldwide. 

However, identification has been proven in many cases to be problematic. Many agencies only accept specific documents such as the form DD 214 but it’s oversized, too vulnerable to loss, and does not provide a photographic identification. 

To put a more unified system in place, the Veterans Identification Act of 2015 ordered the Veterans Affairs to issue ID cards to Veterans. The department estimated that the cards will be available in 2016 but only started giving them out in the later part of this year. No cost will be asked for the procurement of this identification. 

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Now, thousands of Veterans have flocked online to register for the new card but the department was never prepared for the demand. The VA temporarily knocked it offline at the end of November. 

The department has announced that they are currently making improvements to the system so they can accommodate the surge of requests. 

Per the VA, they have processed around 5,500 card applications and are planning to release an app where more interest Veterans can easily apply. Veterans can expect to receive the card 60 days after their application. 

As of now, here are some ways that you can obtain documents that will prove your military service. 

State Issued Designation on Driver’s Licenses or Identification Cards 

Some states in the US provide military service members both retired or on active duty with a veterans designation on their driver’s licenses or ID cards which is the easiest and most universal document accepted by most agencies and businesses. Agencies vary in the proofs they require. Most only require your DD 214 but some may ask you for supplemental documents. There is also a fee for application and renewal. 

Veterans Identification Proof of Service Letter 

Take these steps lifted directly from the VA’s blog site. 

  1. Log into your account on the eBenefits homepage.
  2. At the top of the page under the eBenefits logo, hover your mouse over the “Manage” tab. In the dropdown that appears below it, click on “Documents and Records.”
  3. In the left column on the following page, click on “VA Letters.”
  4. At the bottom of the following page, click on “Veteran Proof of Service.”
  5. Print.

It’s a fast, free and overall easy way to prove your honorable service. 

County Court House or Clerk Office Issued Veterans Cards 

Some counties in some states have opted to provide their Veterans with Veteran ID cards until the states start offering them. Although these are unofficial, it’s still honored and recognized by businesses in these states. 

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Retired Veterans with 20 years of service IDs 

Veterans who have served the country honorably for two decades can submit a copy of their retirement document and they will be issued a DD form 2. Generally, retirees can be issued two types of cards: the DD form 2A for those who are retired but are not yet receiving retirement pay; and a DD Form 2 for those who already are. 

ID cards for eligible family members of living and decreased retired soldiers 

A Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card (DD Form 1172) is issued to the family members of those retirees who are not yet receiving retirement pay. Meanwhile, a DD form 1173 or Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card is given to the family of a retiree. Holders of this card will not receive full medical benefits until their sponsored reaches 60 years old. 

Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Identification Card 

This is a universal health card that is issued by the department to anyone who needs access to the VA medical center. It is also recognized by businesses. 

You can qualify for this card if you are a veteran: 

  • with service-related disability rating
  • who served in combat or in a war zone
  • who has medical conditions incurred while in service
  • who served in theater or combat operations within the past five years
  • who received a Purple Heart Medal
  • who is a former POW or prisoner of war

*Check with the VA site for more information on eligibility. 

Service organization veteran ID cards 

Many veterans organizations issue Veterans ID cards to their members. IDs from huge organizations such as the American Legion are mostly recognized as valid by most businesses and agencies.