Free Veteran ID Cards Can Take 6 Months to Process

A veteran applies for a veteran ID card on the Vets.gov website. (Military.com)
A veteran applies for a veteran ID card on the Vets.gov website. (Military.com)

A verification of military service required for veterans to receive their free ID card from the Department of Veterans Affairs can still take up to six months from the time of application for those who separated before 1980, VA officials said last week.

Veterans who served after 1980 can be verified through an automated process rolled out late last year, said Curt Cashour, a VA spokesman. But other veterans, primarily those who served before 1980, require manual verification before the ID card can be processed and produced, he added.

The card is available to any honorably discharged veteran through a problem established in 2017. Ordered by Congress in 2015, the IDs are meant to serve as proof of military service at private businesses.

The cards are not considered official forms of federal or state ID, do not entitle veterans to any federal benefits and cannot be used to access military bases.

Related: Should You Get the New Veteran ID Card?

To receive the card, veterans must apply through Va.gov, complete the application and upload a photo. Once military service is verified, the card is sent by mail within 21 days, Cashour said.

Since November 2017, about 204,230 veterans have applied for the card, he said. Of those, 143,324 have been approved and 143,084 have been mailed as of May 8.

To apply for the card, veterans should visit the VA website.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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