Congress Approves Veterans ID Cards

Veteran ID card

Last week, Congress passed the Veterans ID Card Act (H.R. 91), which will allow all US veterans to receive an ID card issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Under current rules, official ID cards are only issued to those who retire from the military, or who are receiving medical care from the VA health care system.  Veterans who are not retirees or utilizing VA medical care must use their DD-214 as proof of military service.  The new VA ID card will be available to all honorably discharged veterans.  The new VA ID cards will not replace the need for a retired military ID or VA medical care identification card.

Now, there are really only two situations in which proof of military ID is required:  applying for jobs, and obtaining discounts on goods or services.  This new ID card will not be used for verification of veteran status for job hunting, and applicants will continue to use an electronic or photocopied version of their actual DD-214.  Therefore, the only purpose (that I can see) to this new ID card is for obtaining veterans discounts from private businesses that generously offer them.  I will be very curious to see how many people want to obtain these new cards, and if they are actually used.  Commentary here at The Paycheck Chronicles has taught me that a lot of people feel strongly about their ability to receive veterans discounts at the few businesses that offer them.

Opponents of the new Veterans ID card argue that the program is unnecessary and  will add to the VA’s already overburdened system.  Supporters claim that it will be more convenient for veterans to have an identification card than carrying around a photocopy of their DD-214, and the new IDs will decrease the potential for identity theft and fraud because they will not contain the same personally identifying information that is contained on the DD-214.  The administration has previously expressed reservations about a VA ID program, but has not indicated that they will veto the bill that Congress has passed.

Veterans will be asked to pay a small fee for the production costs of the ID cards.  There is no estimated timeline for when the cards will be available.

About the Author

Kate Horrell
Kate Horrell is a military financial coach, mom of four teens, and Navy spouse. She has a background in taxes and mortgage banking, and a trove of experience helping other military families with their money. Follow her on twitter @realKateHorrell.
  • Homer Willis

    Will this new card allow Vets access to MWR, such as military RV parks.

    • Kate

      Mr. Willis, this new ID card will not change any of the benefits to which retirees, disabled veterans, or other veterans are entitled. It is simply an “official” way to recognize veterans.

      • Billy

        Kate did you really answer his question. It would be nice if honorable vets could use miltary rv parks,lodging or buy groceries at a miltary base.across our great nation.

        • Kate

          I am not familiar with the rules for using military RV parks, so it would be inappropriate for me to answer that question directly. However, the new VA veterans identification cards will not confer any additional benefits or privileges, such as using military lodging or the Defense Commissary system stores.

  • Yellow Devil

    What a waste of time and resources. Most business, if they give blanket Veteran discounts, will usually accept different options to prove you served (old ID, Veteran printed on some State licenses, even pictures). Same with employers, or if a government employer, will ask for your DD-214. Maybe if the country didn’t have so many different issues Congress should be looking at right now, but we do live in an era of misplaced priorities.

    • Kate

      I agree, Yellow Devil. I can’t imagine how this was the best use of our legislator’s time, and I wonder how it is going to help the VA get their backlog under control.

      • 4M

        I don’t think it will have any effect on the backlog.
        After all it’s not as though doctors, nurses, or medical techs are making the ID cards.

        • Yellow Devil

          They’re aren’t too many places outside of actual military bases you can get military IDs, and many require appointments. Seeing as that I had Reservists who had problems getting their ID due to living nowhere near any military bases, this just adds unnecessary burden and can cause issues for people who legitimately need military ID cards. Technically, you are supposed to get a limited benefits card when you ETS from active duty service, but I never received one when I left Fort Bragg in 2009 and wasn’t going to drive an hour to the closest base (at my home) to get one.

      • aav amphibs

        Backlog? That’s their problem. They need to resolve it and do their job. Not reward them for cruddy performance time and time again. Get us our ID cards and quit complaining.

    • RAPTOR555

      Home Depot will not accept a DD214 or VA Medical card as proof of service and it’s there that a vet can get a huge discount especially if they make large purchases. Lowe’s accepts those and even dog tags as proof. Go figure.

  • james howard

    I thought we already had ID cards for the VA

  • John

    WOW, I can’t believe all the time our Congress Waste on things like this. I guess it makes them feel good like they are really doing something for Vets.

    • hooya

      are you a veteran john? sounds like you’re not.

    • aav amphibs

      Maybe so but I’ll take it for now.

  • Ray

    I retired after 22 1/2 years in the Military. This is totally stupid. If these people wanted the benefits they should have stayed in the military and retired so they could be entitled to these benefits. Disabled vets are entitled to these benefits. Seems just like the Senate, 1 term and they get benefits.

    • W. Braicov

      Apparently you have a straight forward life like I thought I had. My wife can’t get a true Veterans ID because our income is too high and she is a vet with 10 years. She has to carry around a copy of her dd214 to even get recognized at some casinos that do special things for those who have served, I di not know there were so many people that believe there world is the only way everyone else should or has to live. 30 years retired USAF.

    • Luci

      I agree!! I did 23 years and am a combat vet…why should a person who served five years and didn’t deploy get something? I think the term veteran is very broad……..

      • aav amphibs

        Get something? An ID card you mean? Are you giving me a discount? It’s none of your business if LOWES or HOME DEPOT gives us a veteran discount. Not your call. If I’m paying for this ID card, its none of your business. We pay for your retirement and ID card via our taxes.

    • aav amphibs

      We don’t want your benefits. We want our ID card stating we served. Read up on this bill so you can understand what this ID card is or isn’t please.

    • Jim

      I served in the military and I also deserve an ID. This is not stupid, it is common sense.

    • Guy

      I also served 14yrs 11 months when the medically discharged me for a medical condition caused by a military doctor who screwed up. The made my discharge 1 month before 15 years so they did not have to retire me. Although the accident was caused while on duty and the VA rated me at 60% they only counted 20% of it and denied my claim for a retirement. Given the option I would have gone well beyond 20 years. What you are saying is I do not deserve the option to have an ID card?

    • Ronald

      So you think that everyone who volunteers for military service should do so only if they intend to make it a career and remain in the service for at least the minimum amount of time required to retire. You can be sure that the Veterans Administration, the Selective Service System, and The Joint-Chiefs don’t feel that way. If it became necessary for Congress to reinstate the draft, do you think that everyone who was drafted into service should be required to spend enough time to retire in order to be elegible for any benefits? Of the millions who have been drafted, not all were sent into combat and not all made a career of it. Should those exceptions be treated as though they were never in military service? Retention in the military is problem enough without adding an “all or nothing” requirement to it.

      I joined the United States Navy in 1955 at age seventeen and proudly and honorably served over ten years on active duty. Upon leaving the Navy, I never expected any type of military service benefits and I don’t expect it yet today. However, I do believe that every person living or hiding in this great country of ours owes a debt of gratitude and recognition to everyone who ever honorably served in any branch of our Armed Forces.

      This proposed ID card is not intended to give anyone any benefits that they haven’t earned as spelled out in Veterans Administration guidelines, and would not provide any benefits at taxpayers’ expense. It will just help to simplify the way veterans can prove elegibility for merchants’ discounts, etc. that they provide to show appreciation to veterans for having served our country.

    • James E Bailey

      Not true. Example: Unless you’re active or retired with an ID card, many businesses, including Home Depot will not give a discount. Another thing, not everyone wants to make the military their career and that is their choice; not yours. Volunteering to serve should be reason enough.

  • Sherri

    As a 10 year vet is my service less honorable than the 20 year vet, can a service member die in line of duty 1 day on the job, 5,10 or 20? we all served honorably and I’m not wanting the PAY that the retirees get, that is thier reward NOT mine, I’m not asking to shop the exchange and commissary although this might be debatable in future descussions as times get harder, but I want a card that shows proof that yes I’m proud that I served in the Military NO MATTER HOW LONG IT WAS and that I was honorably discharged and on verterans day I can proudly walk into a steak house and get my discount without having to pull out a 8 1/2 x 11 DD214 sheet. Is my getting a card in any way taking anything away from the vet that served 20? I think not and you should be ashamed your not willing to fight for the simple little thing that might make a vet that would have fallen for you on any given day of our terms…even if it wasn’t a full 20. I’m not taking anything from YOU. Now, where in this did it tell me where I can get my card?

    • Ron

      Agree, I’m proud of my 8.5 years of service in the Cold War Submarine Navy as part of the mutually assured destruction deterrent against Communist aggression. I want no benefits other than those I’m entitled, but last week had to find a copy of my DD 214 to apply for my carry permit in Florida. An ID in my wallet to get those things that I have a right to get seems a better use of our governments time than more benefits for illegal Allies.

      • Jack

        The VA id they are proposing can not, I repeat can not be used for anything but the discounts at the stores. You will still have to get the old DD 214 for your carry permit in Florida. You can get a V for veteran put on your Drivers ID designating you as a veteran in Florida as well.

      • Watchin’ the fun

        Ron – So who are our ILLEGAL “Allies” ? Did you mean aliens ? Aren’t there some aliens at Area 51 in Nevada ?

    • Luci

      Your time served is honorable and noted. Nobody is taking anything away from you BUT……those who DID 20+ ALSO feel their time should be noted….you chose to leave at ten….your choice

      • aav amphibs

        And those having done 20 are compensated as such via retirement checks, free medical and AAFES shopping on bases and use of facilities for life. Plus all kinds of retail discounts exclusive to only active duty and retirees. This VA ID card will be for proof of veteran-ship for those not enrolled in the VA system nor retired, no bennies tied to it, no checks, no medical, no px commissary privileges. Just an ID card issued out by the VA. And maybe a little bit of a discount at retailer discretion. What’s the malfunction? What’s the big deal?

    • Jack

      Are you taking anything away from our disabled Vets? Did you really thing about this or just reacting. These cards just magically appear or does someone have to take the time and money to make these. They can not be use for any purpose except to give you a discount at the steak house. Read the bill and you will see this. You can not use this as proof for any government agency or job etc. Many states will put a V or other identifying mark on Drivers license. Since these are already issued that seems more time and cost effective way to do this rather than take time and money away from the VA Health care system to do it. The fee they are possibly going to charge will not even cover the print job much less time and distraction from medical health care to take pictures etc.

  • William

    I’m in line with Sherri’s statement. It’s not about benefits or discounts for us. I served PROUDLY in the U.S. Army Reserves for 13 yrs. I don’t mean to insult anyone but there seems to be a lot of ignorance amongst veterans that already possess V.A. ID’s. Do you know the pride in my son’s eyes when we’re at sporting events or functions and they ask veterans to rise in recognition. Yet, I’m forced to schlep my full 20+ year old military jacket with me to Disney or Shades of Green counter just to enjoy a holiday. We need to stop the criticism of fellow and honorable prior service members and stand to applaud Congress on something that should have been in place decades ago. Seek to understand how something so simple to fix has impacted hundreds of thousands of veterans. Now with that off my chest can anyone plainly help me identify the process to receive MY official veteran’s I.D.? Hooah!!!

  • aav amphibs

    It’s not a waste by Congress to spend some time on this bill. For crying out loud, there is other wasteful things out there, this is a very much needy things for us. We don’t want to drag around a piece of paper, it’s not anyone’s business what my dd-214 says. This ID card nullifies all the sensitive information we must carry around to show to retailers offering us discounts or employers asking us if we are veterans and wanting to see some kind of proof. Why should someone in the VA healthcare system, which our tax dollars spend for sport an ID card when we served too, and pay for their medical care and not have an ID card. Something is wrong with this picture. As for lifers that oppose this, you have retirement, you have it all. Leave our ID cards alone you selfish greedy SOBches.

    • Jack

      My thoughts are please try to be as respectful of others as you would like them to be to you. My question is why have you not applied for VA health care benifits? The only reason I have seen anyone turned away is because they make too much money or were not honorably discharged. Based on your comments I believe you are an honorably discharged veteran but it appears you may be a little on the greedy side since all this card can do is get you discounts at shopping stores. I am not embarrassed of bothered by anything on my DD 214 and have not problem with showing it. The one concern that has been raised is ID theft which does occur. I carry multiple copies of mine with me every day and I have a V on my Drivers License and a VA Medical ID. It seems that it would be time and cost effective for the state that already issues ID’s to add it to the ID they issue like Florida does and not have our Federal Government which is already in debt up to my grandchildrens eye balls mess with this and screw something else up. Remember these ID will not be usable by employers etc only shopping stores so half of your objection reason is null and void.

  • Sherri

    Kate Horrell: it appears you left out the step that the deserving veterans are asking on how to obtain this card. If my research is correct the reason you did not answer is because they are still working out the details on how and when we will be able to process the cards. Please keep us posted on matter as I think you were awarded some nice debates from both sides on this article.

    • Kate

      Sherri, you are correct. I did not include that information because it is not yet available. As stated in the last paragraph, there is no timeline for implementation of the program. There is also no plan for implementation of the program.

  • According to the law itself, it becomes effective 60 days after enactment which was signed into law on July 20. it should be available about September 20, with fee yet to be determined. I would hazard a guess that they would be available at VA facilities. No new benefits come with cards, but many businesses offer discounts for Vets.

    • Kate

      Steve, are you optomistic that it will happen on time? I’m not. Heck, I’m still waiting for the Flexible Spending Accounts that were directed in the 2010 Defense Authorization Bill.

      I hope you are right and it will occur on schedule. Even though I think it is silly, it is obviously important to many people.

      • aav amphibs

        I’m optimistic this should happen. My gosh, if the VA can’t get this right, I feel sorry for those going into surgery in there. They should have it enacted by September 20th and if they don’t, Obama needs to hold their feet to the fire. Start firing these lazy bstds.

    • Guest contributor

      Steve – Where did you hear that the cards will cost money ?

      • Kate

        The plan calls for the cost of the cards to be borne by the veterans.

  • Edward

    Glad I ran across this article. Just got a ‘dear john’ from the VA
    that my pension and ss are just over their maximum level.
    This level went into effect only a couple years ago as a few
    of my non combat friends are getting some benefits under the
    VA. They are paying some co-pays.
    Really all I wanted was to get into the system and have the
    ID card for the future. In my state (PA.) you can get a Veteran
    status on your drivers license so that is least an ID.
    Anyone out there looking just for an ID maybe should check with
    their state DMV to see if they have anything similar to PA.
    ED Navy& AFR

  • Patrick

    What about the million or so vets who got “Oth discharges who served honorably prior to the action that resulted in “Oth”discharge??Are the able to get the new I’d card. ? Guest

    • aav amphibs

      The bill states no such discharge requirements or limitations. Just must present a DD-214. As far as I can tell, even someone with an “un-Characterized” discharge should be able to obtain one. NO BENEFITS tied to this ID card so no big deal. .

  • Sean

    Where can I optain an ID?

    • Watchin’ the fun

      Maybe you can “obtain” one by calling the VA !

  • I thought we already had ID cards for the VA

    • Wstewkim

      This is a non-benefit ID for recognition purposes. Mainly to get store discount etc.

  • John j

    Is that the one with the American flag on Front superimposed over a photograph with Social Security number I think I have one for 15 years or so, or is that the one with just the small American flag with a straight photograph-with VA benefits , depending on what team your in yellow red– in so on. (four years Marine Corps 19 years National Guard). If it is-usually people ignore this AS some type of trinket card, and steel ask for your DD 214-so unless it’s a real card that is authenticated into federal agency that the can be verified on that ID credentials{And they can do this} it’s still will be a trinket card—-0321/ 0311/ 95B. God bless- Godspeed.//nothing follows\

  • Mike

    This card will be TOTALLY DIFFERENT then the card issued by the VA to allow access to the VA Medical Centers. This one will just say that you are a veteran, nothing else. Seems that once they get rolling, they will come up with a price for the veteran to pay to get the card (and probably another price to pay to replace it). Although it appears to be a complete waste of time by our government to do this, they see it as a way to show how much they care for the veteran (as long as it doesn’t involve fixing the broken VA system or pay raises to active duty troops). It’s total bull!

  • rich

    everyone who serviced should be able to get one. we all serviced with honor and all we want is a card that shows we were in. We’re not asking for VA benefits. We still have a lump in our throat when we hear the national anthem.

    • Guest contributor

      Do you still get that lump in your throat when you hear that the US Defense Industry is buying the federal gov’t to continue poking the US’s nose in foreign nations business so the defense industry can stay in business ?

  • Bill

    No longer are DD 214 forms accepted at me Home Depot or Lowes as they were in the past. Now they require this new VA Veterans card which isn’t available. Why? No one knows. Let’s see if the VA takes as long to issue this card as they do fixing the hospital problem. Meanwhile a veteran’s service of less than 20 years is put on the back burner.

  • Please note that in the State of Ohio for the past three years, many of your local County Recorders have been issuing Veterans ID Cards that do the same thing as mentioned in the article above. In addition, they are a second form of photo identification if you need it and can be used as ID when you vote.
    We also record your discharge paperwork when we issue the card, so that it can never be lost. You can always get a certified copy of your discharge paperwork from your County Recorder.
    Recorders who issue the cards can issue them for any county or state, as long as your original discharge is presented.
    For further information, check with your local Ohio County Recorders or see my website
    Sharon C. Gingerich
    Geauga County Recorder

  • Dennis

    where I can get one.