WASHINGTON -- A bill allowing all veterans to receive official identification cards through the Department of Veterans Affairs is on its way to President Barack Obama's desk.
The House approved the bill unanimously late Tuesday. Supporters say the bill should minimize the threat of identity theft and make it easier for veterans to prove their military service.
Under current law, some veterans who did not serve for at least 20 years or receive VA health services must carry paper documents to prove their veteran status. A form used by many veterans contains Social Security numbers and other details that advocates warn could put veterans at risk of identity theft.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., called it an example of what Congress can accomplish when lawmakers put partisanship aside and address the country's needs.
Buchanan's Southwest Florida district includes more than 70,000 veterans, many of whom are age 65 or older.
Donald DiNunzio, a Vietnam-era veteran from Bradenton, Florida, hailed passage of the ID card bill.
He has often been asked to prove he is a vet, "but carrying around my DD-214 form is difficult and impractical," DiNunzio said, referring to a form commonly used by the military and the VA.
The form he currently uses is old, brittle and thin, DiNunzio said. "Having a permanent Veterans ID card would be a much simpler way of proudly proving my veteran status," he said.