Veterans waiting for their new ID card to arrive by mail won't see it until at least April, officials announced in an email this week.
The free ID cards, available to honorably discharged veterans of all eras through the Department of Veterans Affairs website, were to be mailed in early March, VA officials told Military.com in January.
An email update sent March 13, however, announced that "printing and mailing for approved ID cards will begin in April."
The printing delay was caused by the review process, which must "ensure that a valid form of identification and image was provided," Curt Cashour, a VA spokesman, said in an email.
"VA is currently working with a print vendor to validate printed ID card samples, and we expect to complete this process soon so approved cards can be printed and mailed as soon as possible," he wrote.
Cards can also be downloaded and printed from Vets.gov. Almost 65,000 veterans had applied for the card as of March 13, Cashour said -- about 50,000 new applications since late January.
The shipping delay is the latest in a series of errors since the cards' original rollout in late November.
The online application appeared to face major technical problems immediately after opening, and the VA in early December suspended new applications, instead posting a message asking veterans to submit an email address to receive updates. Applications opened again in late January.
The card program, which was ordered by Congress in 2015, is meant to give veterans a way to show proof of service to businesses and others without carrying their DD-214 discharge paperwork. It is not meant to replace other forms of military or veteran ID and does not serve as proof of qualification for any federal program. Veterans are not required to get the ID.
Veterans continue to encounter errors while applying for the card, according to feedback sent by veterans to Military.com. Some vets reported problems with the system accepting their service records, while others who reached out to VA officials for support were met with confusion.
"I even called President Trump's hotline for veterans and they forwarded my concern to a Dr. David J. Shulkin, the Secretary of the VA," one veteran wrote this week in an email to Military.com. "I heard back from a person in the VA and he told me that they have nothing to do with the new identification cards. They only deal with the identification cards for veterans that are getting medical coverage through the VA."
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.