Veterans are once again able to apply for the free Department of Veterans Affairs ID card after technical problems late last year forced a delay to the program.
The free ID card, originally rolled-out in late November, was ordered by Congress in 2015 as a way to give veterans proof of service at businesses without carrying a copy of their DD-214 forms. It is available for all honorably discharged veterans, regardless of era or time in service.
But the application appeared to face major technical problems immediately after opening, and tests by at least two Military.com reporters accessing the site with their own VA logins and military service credentials encountered repeated errors. The VA in early December suspended new applications, and posted a message asking veterans to submit their email address to receive updates.
"Thank you for your interest in the Veteran Identification Card! Currently, we are experiencing a high volume of traffic. We apologize, and want you to know we're working to fix the problem," the notice said. "In the meantime, please enter your email address and we'll send an update when the Veteran Identification Card application is back online."
Several weeks later, veterans who were logged-in to the VA's system before visiting the ID card application page were able to apply for the card, while others were still prompted for an email address.
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Now the system is available for all users, and those who requested email updates have been contacted, said Curtis Cashour, a VA spokesman.
"To help overcome initial rollout challenges, VA asked some Veterans needing additional assistance to leave their email address," he said in a statement to Military.com. "VA is now working with those Veterans to help them complete the application."
About 14,600 ID card applications had been received as of Jan. 29, he said. Millions of veterans qualify for the card.
Veterans will begin receiving their printed cards in early March, Cashour said. In the meantime, those with approved applications can download an image of their card directly from the VA website to print or use via their mobile phone, he said.
Some veterans, such as those who receive health benefits from the VA and military retirees, already have IDs that can provide proof of service. The new IDs will not qualify as official government-issued identification for air travel or other uses. The ID card program is voluntary.
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.