Vets Must Apply Online for New VA ID Card
Honorably discharged veterans of all eras who want a new identification card from the Department of Veterans Affairs will be able to apply online by registering with the VA and uploading a photo, officials said.
Officials had previously told Military.com that the process will include an online application, but offered no further details.
A 2015 law requires the VA to issue a hard-copy photo ID to any honorably discharged veteran who applies. The card must contain the veteran's name, photo and a non-Social Security identification number, the law states.
To apply for the card, veterans must register with Vets.gov, a process that authenticates users through the ID.me system, VA officials told Military.com on Oct. 16.
Doing so requires users to upload a copy of a valid government photo ID, such as a driver's license or passport, and provide their Social Security number, among other information.
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To complete the card application process, users will then upload a recent photo to the VA site that can be printed on the ID card, according to a lawmaker who introduced the legislation requiring the IDs. The cards will be directly mailed to the veteran.
No further information was available as to when in November applications will open, the turnaround time for the IDs or a specific address on the VA website where veterans can apply.
The ID cards are meant to offer a way for veterans to prove their service without carrying a copy of their DD214, which contains sensitive personal information such as veterans' Social Security numbers. The new IDs will not, however, qualify as official government-issued identification for air travel or other uses.
"Every veteran -- past, present, and future -- will now be able to prove their military service without the added risk of identity theft," said Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Florida Republican who introduced the ID card legislation in 2015. "These ID cards will make life a little bit easier for our veterans."
The VA already offers ID cards to some veterans.
Those who receive health care from the VA or have a disability rating can get a photo ID VA health card, also known as a Veteran Health Identification Card. Military retirees also hold an ID card issued by the Defense Department.
Veterans are able to get a proof of service letter through the VA's ebenefits website. And some states will include a veteran designation on driver's licenses if requested.
The new VA ID card program begins as the military exchange system opens online shopping to honorably discharged veterans of all eras.
That benefit, which will officially launch on Veterans Day, requires veterans to first be verified before they can shop. The benefit does not allow shopping at brick and mortar exchange stores or the commissary and does not include base access.
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at email@example.com.
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