Last week, Congress passed the Veterans ID Card Act (H.R. 91), which will allow all US veterans to receive an ID card issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Under current rules, official ID cards are only issued to those who retire from the military, or who are receiving medical care from the VA health care system. Veterans who are not retirees or utilizing VA medical care must use their DD-214 as proof of military service. The new VA ID card will be available to all honorably discharged veterans. The new VA ID cards will not replace the need for a retired military ID or VA medical care identification card.
Now, there are really only two situations in which proof of military ID is required: applying for jobs, and obtaining discounts on goods or services. This new ID card will not be used for verification of veteran status for job hunting, and applicants will continue to use an electronic or photocopied version of their actual DD-214. Therefore, the only purpose (that I can see) to this new ID card is for obtaining veterans discounts from private businesses that generously offer them. I will be very curious to see how many people want to obtain these new cards, and if they are actually used. Commentary here at The Paycheck Chronicles has taught me that a lot of people feel strongly about their ability to receive veterans discounts at the few businesses that offer them.
Opponents of the new Veterans ID card argue that the program is unnecessary and will add to the VA's already overburdened system. Supporters claim that it will be more convenient for veterans to have an identification card than carrying around a photocopy of their DD-214, and the new IDs will decrease the potential for identity theft and fraud because they will not contain the same personally identifying information that is contained on the DD-214. The administration has previously expressed reservations about a VA ID program, but has not indicated that they will veto the bill that Congress has passed.
Veterans will be asked to pay a small fee for the production costs of the ID cards. There is no estimated timeline for when the cards will be available.