Military Advantage

VA Opens ID Card Program to USPHS, NOAA Veterans

U.S. Public Health Service Capt. John Holland assists as first responders from the Mexican states of Jalisco and Michoacan practice various knots with rope and webbing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, March 21, 2017. (USPHS/Lauren Hill)
U.S. Public Health Service Capt. John Holland assists as first responders from the Mexican states of Jalisco and Michoacan practice various knots with rope and webbing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, March 21, 2017. (USPHS/Lauren Hill)

Two categories of veterans who were previously excluded from a new Department of Veterans Affairs ID card program can now apply after a change was made to the online application.

Those who served in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) or as commissioned members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are considered veterans by law.

But an application for a free veteran ID card ordered by Congress in 2015 did not include USPHS or NOAA in the dropdown menu of military services, a USPHS veteran advocate complained. He said requests to the VA to fix the issue went ignored.

A change to the application was made after an April 9 Military.com story highlighted the problem, said retired Army Col. Jim Currie, who heads the Commissioned Officers Association of the USPHS.

VA officials did not respond to requests for comment for that story.

There are about 13,000 currently serving and former members of the USPHS and about 320 commissioned members of NOAA. Estimates on how many NOAA veterans are eligible for the card were not immediately available.

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

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