Posted on Saturday, 15th April 2017 by Dennis DampPrint This Post
Veteran Identification Cards – New & Expanded Benefits
Until recently the only way veterans could prove their military status was either with a VA Health Service card, a retired military card, or provide a copy of their DD-214 discharge paperwork. Veterans that aren’t signed up for VA health care or didn’t retire from military service had few options other than carrying around a copy of their discharge papers. Our DD-214 forms don’t include a picture and most times a photo ID is required.
A New Way to Prove Veteran Status
On July 20, 2015, the president signed into law the Veterans Identification Card Act of 2015. This act allows Veterans to apply for an identification card directly from the Veterans Administration. The VA identification card will allow Veterans to demonstrate proof of service for discounts at private restaurants and businesses. This new photo ID can be used at Home Depot, Lowes and other civilian establishments that offer veterans discounts.
Starting on November 11, 2017, Veterans Day, all honorably discharged veterans will be able to shop online at discount military exchanges. Part of this process includes verifying veteran status and the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) has to create the software to do this. The exchange services will provide registration information for their online sites and the call center for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) will help veterans sign up and navigate the system. Veterans will also be able to shop at the online Navy Exchange Services managed by NEXCOM.
Veterans with honorable discharges will be authorized to shop online at any of the military exchange sites regardless of service branch, but they won’t be able to receive a DoD identification card through the program, or gain access to DoD installations and other DoD property where exchanges are located.
How to Obtain a Veteran Identification Card
The VAntage Point blog article titled Veteran ID Cards: What your options are now and in the future published on March 24, 2016 describes the new program and the process for obtaining a temporary letter to use until the cards are available. The new VA identification cards can’t be used as proof of eligibility for any federal benefits and they don’t grant access to military installations. The VA will charge a fee, the cost hasn’t been established as of yet. I thought the fee was a little over the top since we did serve our country and many, like myself, didn’t have a choice since I and many others received draft notices in the 1960s. My initial military pay was a meager $98 a month, well below minimum wage at the time. When I married the love of my life in 1969 they increased my pay to $148 a month because I had to move off base! However, that being said, I don’t have a problem with a reasonable fee, it would just be nice to have the official card for use at Lowes, Home Depot, and other establishments.
Until recently I was using my Pennsylvania state drivers license for proof of service. In Pennsylvania the Department of Transportation adds a flag and place VETERAN under it to denote military service. You just have to take your DD-214 with you when you renew your driver’s license. Now both Home Depot and Lowes refuses to accept the PA license as proof of identification for some reason and that is why I was researching how to obtain a VA ID card. I first called to see if I would be able to obtain a VA Medical card. Many veterans don’t qualify for a Medical Card because of income limits. I fit into that category and so would many federal retirees due to our retirement annuity often combined with our Social Security benefit.
According to the VA You can access and print a free Veterans identification proof of service letter through the joint VA/DoD web portal, eBenefits. This serves as proof of honorable service in the Uniformed Services, as defined in laws about the Department of Defense (DoD). Veterans are able to obtain a free eBenefits account by going to https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/homepage. You have to sign up for a premium account to be able to print out the Veterans identification proof of service letter.
I was able to sign up for the premium service however when I went to print out the proof of service letter an error code popped up on my screen and I had to call the eBenefits tech support office for assistance. Basically they were unable to correct the error and they submitted a ticket for upper level support. When I asked them when I could expect this to be resolved, they stated that it could be anywhere from a month to a year or longer! I at least have my account now and hopefully it will get resolved and hopefully the new cards will be available later this year before November 11th.
If you are a veteran and need an identification card sign up for a premium eBenefit account today to get ahead of the curve. If you have problems with your account they will hopefully be able to resolve the issues before they implement the program. Your records may be in tact especially if you served from the 1980s on. I understand that veteran’s records prior to 1980 are archived and they have to take additional steps to retrieve them.
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