How to Get a Military ID Card

A military ID card or dependent ID is a valuable card which can unlock a variety of valuable benefits, such as health care through TRICARE, education benefits, and access base facilities, including the commissary, base exchange, rec centers and other support agencies.

Unfortunately, getting a military ID card isn’t always as easy as waltzing onto your local military installation and requesting one. In fact, only certain individuals are eligible to receive a military ID card or dependent ID card. You are usually eligible to receive a military ID if you are a military retiree or are currently in the military (active duty, Guard, Reserve, or Inactive Ready Reserve). Certain dependents are eligible for dependent ID cards as well (see below).


Are you eligible for a military ID card?

What about a veteran ID card? One of the most common questions we receive comes from veterans who are looking to get a veteran ID card which proves their military service. There are many reasons why proof of military service can come in handy – including securing veterans benefits, proof of service for military discounts, or just to show off your military pride. However, if you served in the military and have since separated from, but didn’t retire from the military, you may not be eligible for a military ID card.

In this article we will cover information about some of the forms of military ID that are available, who is eligible to receive one, and alternative forms of identification to prove military service if you are a military veteran who is not eligible for a military ID card.

Military ID Card Eligibility

In general, you must be in the DEERS system to receive a new military ID card. This includes the servicemember (sponsor) and eligible dependents (who must be entered into DEERS by the sponsor). Here are some general rules regarding military ID card eligibility. Check with your local issuing base personnel office more more specific information.

  • Active Duty ID card. You must be on Active Duty military status and be in the DEERS system.
  • Guard/Reserve Military ID Card. You must be in the Guard or Reserves, which may include the Inactive Ready Reserves (IRR).
  • Retiree Military ID Card. You must qualify as a military retiree, which generally means 20 years of active military service, or 20 years in the Guard or Reserves (though age limits may change eligibility requirements for Guard/Reserve retirees). Medically retired servicemembers may also be eligible.
  • Former Military / No longer serving, not retired. There are a few exceptions given to certain veterans who meet the following qualifications: Medal of Honor recipients, 100% disabled veterans, Former members in receipt of retired pay, Transitional Health Care Member (TAMP), and some others. They will receive DD Form 2765.
  • Military Dependent ID Card. These may include, but are not limited to: Lawful spouse, un-remarried surviving spouse, unmarried children (including adopted or stepchildren) who are: under 21 years of age, over 21 but incapable of self-support (documentation is required), over 21 but under 23 who are attending an approved learning institution as a full time student (documentation is required). There are additional eligibility rules for former spouses, dependent parents/in-laws, and certain other cases. Contact your card issuing service for additional information.
  • Veteran ID Card. This is where it gets a little tricky. There is no official DoD issued military veteran ID card. However, the VA medical system may issue ID cards for veterans who are in their system for service connected disability benefits and certain other situations. (see below).

More types of Uniformed Services ID Cards.

How to Get a Replacement Military Dependent ID Card

In addition to being in the DEERS system, you will need at least 2 forms of ID. For more information about where to go, contact your local base personnel office, or visit the Rapids Site Locator (RSL) for ID card requirements and to locate the nearest ID Card Facility/RAPIDS Station based on City, Zip, State or Country.

Veterans ID Cards

department of veterans affairs id cardAs we mentioned above, not all veterans are eligible for a military ID card. But there may be ways you can still prove your military service. Some states, including Virginia, issue state issued veterans ID cards. Some other states may include an endorsement on their state issued driver’s licenses or ID cards. If this is the case, you should be able to get an ID card through your state (note: not all states offer these cards at this time).

The VA also issues a Veterans Identification Card (VIC), which is a photo ID for veterans who are eligible for VA health care. (note: you do not have to have a service-connected disability rating to be eligible for VA health care benefits). The VIC is a photo ID and you will need to qualify in order to be eligible this ID card. Here is more about how to get a Veterans Identification Card from the VA, and VA health care eligibility.

If you do not have access to the above veterans ID card options, you may still be able to prove your military service in other ways.

Your DD 214 Will Prove Military Service

The easiest way to prove your military service without one of the above ID cards is with a DD Form 214, which is the document which serves as your service record. This is issued to all military members when the separate from military service (the military used to issue a wallet sized DD Form 214, but so far as I know, this is no longer the case).

Unfortunately, carrying around a letter size document is inconvenient. One tip we have received from many veterans is to take your DD Form 214 to an office supply store such as Office Depot, Office Max, Fed-Ex/Kinkos, etc. and ask them to shrink the card to a wallet size version and have it laminated. This will give you a wallet sized document that will prove your service.

Note: Your DD Form 214 is one of the most important documents you will receive, so keep good care of it! Here are more details on the DD Form 214, including how to get a new DD 214.

How You Can Get an ID Card to Prove Military Service

Unfortunately a DD Form 214 isn’t a photo ID, it is simply a document. If you are looking for a photo ID or other wallet sized ID to prove your military service, then these may be good options for you:

  • Department of Veterans Affairs ID Card. This ID card is issued to military veterans who are eligible to receive medical care from the VA. Contact your local VA medical center for more information about your eligibility.
  • State Driver’s License. Some state driver’s licenses display a logo or code that denotes military service. Call your state Department of Motor Vehicles, or licensing branch for more information. You will likely need to bring your DD Form 214 to prove your military service. See a full list of states which offer a veterans designation on drivers licenses or state issued ID cards.
  • State or County Veterans ID Card program. Some counties or other communities issue veteran ID cards. These aren’t “official US or state government IDs,” but they may be valuable in the local community, as many restaurants and retailers will extend discounts as a thanks for your service. These cards may also be good for local or county benefits programs, but these vary by locale.
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Card. Check with your local VFW for eligibility requirements.
  • American Legion membership card. Check with your local American Legion for eligibility requirements.
  • Other service organization ID card. Check with your local military organization for eligibility requirements.

Do you know of any other forms of ID that can be used to prove military service? If so, please contact us. We will add it to the list.

VA ID Card photo source: WikiMedia Commons

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Date published: November 21, 2011. Last updated: November 20, 2014.

Article by

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of this site. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is currently serving in the IL Air National Guard. He also writes about money management, small business, and career topics at Cash Money Life. You can also see his profile on Google.


  1. Ben, what kind of information are you looking for? You can use your letter and go to the installation yourself to obtain an ID card and fully enroll in DEERS. Just make sure you have your ID and your original DD 214 with you. If you are married or have children, take an original copy of the marriage license and birth certificates. Adults need to have an ID card. They do not accept copies unless they have been certified.

    I was just approved recently and had to do a lot of driving back and forth because the place where I got my ID card is a small installation and they don’t usually deal with us.

  2. robert l foss jr says:

    I would like to know how I can get my vet card to show that I am a vet. I have a certificate from the American Legion. It said for “honorable service in the United States armed forces and for outstanding service and loyalty to the United States of America, upon meeting the service requirements set forth by the Congress of the United States.” I was In Fort Dix New Jersey. Can you help me? It has been so long and I don’t have my DD214 form.

  3. James A Minisci says:

    Hi, I served from 1960 – 1963, Army 101ST Airborne Division, I can not see well, due to MD, How do I get a card?

  4. Does anyone know if there is a form to allow someone to go on base and shop, etc. for a retired military person? My dad is elderly and doesn’t drive anymore. He often can’t (or doesn’t want to ) get out of the house to go to the PX or pharmacy. I am his daughter but too old to be a dependent and I’m not military. Thanks for any help.

    • Carol, Unfortunately, I don’t have a solid answer for you. My recommendation is to call the local Pass & ID office or base Visitor’s Center and ask if they have a policy for this type of situation. Best of luck!

  5. robert foss says:

    how do I fine out they sent my card it 2 week

  6. 1.) To all of you asking about military ID or Veterans Administration ID cards. The first step in the process is getting a copy of your DD-214. Without that your only spinning your tires. Go to the link provided below to get started.

    Once you have that in hand, you can go to any VA hosp[ital and get issued a VA I.D. Card.

    2.) To all you guys wanting a Military I.D. card, you must complete step 1.) above first, then after you are in the VA system, you must be evaluated by VA Doctors to determine if you are disabled and to get the military I.D. You MUST have a disability rate of no less than 100% disabled. Once you have that you can take your papers to your area or regional office and they will issue you a form to take to a military base and be issued your Military I.D. card.

    3.) For the one that is a retired military person, you also need proof of military retirement. Then call or visit a nearby military installation and ask them what steps to go through to get the retired military I.D. Card

    4.) A word of caution to all of you seeking a VA disability rating. Anyone disabled to the rate of 100% can be stuck with a “INCOMPETENT” label in that disability rating. If you love the 2nd Amendment and your right to keep and bear arms, you DO NOT want this rating. It can and probably will strip you of your God Given right to keep and bear arms.

  7. alan sotzin says:

    I need to get a dd214 I.D. card, is that the same as a veterans I.D. card to get discounts and benefits with? Please let me know. Thank you. Alan Sotzin

    • Alan, the DoD no longer issues wallet size DD 214 ID Cards. Some people scan a copy of their and shrink it down at an office supply store like FedEx/Kinkos or the UPS Store. Alternatively, you can look at the options listed in this article to get a form of ID you can use to show your proof of service.

  8. It is un fair that dependents get ID’S but vets with less than 20 years don’t.


    to whom it may concern,
    i am a viet nam vet, there are a number of stores in this area that allow vetrans discounts but require a veterans photo i.d. this could be very useful for me as i am disabled/ retired, the disability was due to a civilian job, but i could seriously use the help a photo i.d. would provide. can you help me please and thank you

  10. Jack Rucynski says:

    A couple points of clarification. A 100% disabled veteran and his spouse are entitled to a Military ID Card, (DD Form 2765). They must fill out DD Form 1173 which can be found on line, or they will do it at the base. They should make an appointment with the nearest military installation ID Card Section. You will probably be questioned at the gate, the appointment can then be verified. You must bring two forms of identification for yourself and spouse if married. Not a bad idea to bring your VA ID and your award letter. It is not all that complicated. A veteran requiring a VA ID card must enroll in the VA system. My advise is to contact your County Veterans Service Officer and they will guide you in the right direction. Most of the Service Organizations (VFW, AL, DAV) have veterans service officers. Each of them can most likely get you a physical examination and determine if you are eligible for VA Compensation or VA Medical Care. Should you have any concerns about VA care, don’t; the VA Hospital in Syracuse NY is a five star facility. The help is there, just do it. CSM, US Army, Retired. T

  11. I need to get an ID for my spouse. She is not American and does not have a SSN, but we frequent the bases and the commissaries. Can they get her a dependent ID card if she doesn’t have a SSN? I am retired Navy of 24 years. We’ve been married for 7 months.

  12. Lowes will only except a Military ID from the VA and you say I can’t get one. served 7 years active and 1 year inactive and I can’t get 10%off purchases. :(

  13. Ben Miles says:

    1. Any Vet who honorably served can get a VA ID Card just go to a VA office or center or hospital and inquire.

    2. VA ID’s and Military ID’s are two different animals. (See Jack Rucynski’s post above)

    3 To obtain a Military ID as a veteran, you must be 100% disabled and then go to your regional office with the VA’s determination in hand and apply for a Military ID.

    4. If your spouse does not have a SSN get her one. Even if she has never worked a day in her life here, she needs one because if you die, she can draw a check based on your SS account. The amount she draws depends on how much you paid in.

  14. John Miller says:

    Hello there, I just requested my DD 214 and it has my active duty on there, but it doesn’t have any of my ten years of reservist duty on it. Is there a separate form that has all of that information on it?

  15. John Menna says:

    I served 6 months and then 5 1/2 years in the active reserve totaling 687 days.

    I came out an E-5 and at REFRAD ( after the first 6 months of active duty ) I was told that my hearing was so bad that I should never have been in the service , and furthermore if I waited a few days they would get me a ID card and I could go to the VA Hospital in my area .Or (Plan B) I could go to the VA in my area and get a card.

    As a wise 20 year old ,that was getting married the next week , I decided that plan “B” suited my needs.

    My hearing was perfect when I went in but somewhere in training it went south,
    probably as a result of firing one of the many weapons an infantry man uses.

    Now I am being told that the rules have changed and I no longer qualify for the ID.
    Isn’t there a grandfather clause attached to my enlistment ?

    John Menna # 21028326 NG

  16. Joseph E. Weakland says:

    I submitted an application to the Va. Regional office In St. Petersburg, Fl, back in March of 2014. I needed a military verification form to receive my military ID card, so my wife and I could get onto Mcdill AFB. I have not heard a peep out of them. I,ve tried to contact the toll free number a lot of times, but could not get through. I’ve tried to contact Congressmen Rubio but to no avail. Can someone please help?

  17. Yvette Spicer says:

    I am married to a retired service member. He was in the Air Force. and is on VA Disability. I have a copy of his DD-214 for a medical discharge.

    How (or if) do I find out if I’m eligible for a Spousal ID card? When I ask someone, all I get is “I don’t know”.

    Thanks for any help you can give me.

  18. Alvin Casimere says:

    Hello, I wanted to know am I eligible to register as a dependent in the DEERS registration. My father was honorable discharged from Desert Storm due to the expiration of his service. However, he passed away back in 2009. Am I still eligible to register myself?

    • Hello Alvin, I’m sorry for your loss. I don’t know your full situation, but my initial thought is you are most likely not eligible for an ID card (based on the info at hand). Children and spouses are usually only classified as dependents while their sponsor (the military member) is still serving in the military. In the case of retired military members, a child would only be a dependent for ID card purposes until they reach age 18, or longer if they are attending full-time college, up to age 23, or until they get married. If your father was not a military retiree (generally 20 years of active duty service), then the window has most likely closed for being eligible for a military ID card.

  19. Joseph E. Weakland

    You can always go back to the office and check your status. The 1-800 number is really busy during the week, especially Monday, but you can get through.

  20. John Cardarelli says:

    I am finding this search very frustrating. I joined the Navy in 1966, served active duty during 1966, Honorably discharged in 1972. I have my DD214 form. Can I get a Military I.D. card? If so, what do I have to do? I visited my local Veteran Services office, they didn’t know anything about it. No help what so ever. Can you help me?

  21. rick merri says:

    I took a picture of my dd214 then saved it on my phone.

  22. Dan Botimer says:

    john cardarelli , same EXACT thing happened to me this morning at the VA in Lansing Mi. nobody knew anything . very frustrating .

  23. Wisconsin is no longer pending when it comes to having your veteran status on your Drivers License. I’ve had mine for 5 months.

  24. If you are 18 and u need your ID and your dad or mom says no are u legally allowed to have it?

  25. Mary Coffindaffer says:

    I have a question I have an acquaintance who served maybe 6 years in the Air Force. He recently got a health card from VA. What benefits come with this card? Can he go to ITT and get say park
    Hopper tickets to Disney Land? I would appreciate any help on this matter. Thanks.

    • Mary, The VA issued ID card is for receiving medical benefits at the VA. Some people also use it to show proof of military service. However, it is not a military ID card, and is not good for base access or access to active duty military benefits. In general, ITT and other base facilities are only open to active duty, Guard/Reserve, retirees, and their family members. So in this case, I don’t think he would be able to access the base or use the ID for discounted tickets. I hope this helps!

  26. I am needing advise. I am a disabled veteran, unemployable so I am paid at 100% Rate. I carry a veterans ID card but am thinking I am also eligible for a retired military ID card . I served in the army national guard for 20 years. 12 of the 20 years I was active army national guard. I was told I had to waive my retirement to receive VA benefits but I was not aware I was waiving my right to have a retired ID card. Please help, this is really beginning to bother me. It’s like I served 20 years and have nothing but my disability to show for it.

  27. william cass says:


    • William, The American Legion casts a wide net and likely received your name and address as a veteran. They are simply trying to increase their membership, and may not have marked your name as ineligible to join their organization. If you wish them to stop sending you mail, please contact them and ask to be removed from their contact list. That will stop the mail. Best of luck, and thanks for your service!

  28. Stan S Smith says:

    Ref to William Cass

    I, too, served in U.S. Army from 1957 to 1960. Like you, I was recruited by the American Legion to become a member. I advised those trying to recruit me that I was not eligible, but they said oh yes you are, and have been paying dues for thirty five years. I called a few Legion Posts in my area and they told me it was alright because they have lots of members like me. There is one Post that had a Legion Commander who served only in the National Guard on weekends. I guess it is time for me to stop paying dues. I know now that congress did not set up the American Legion for soldiers like me or for those members like me. Maybe an investigation is needed….receiving membership money under false pretensions

  29. Stan S Smith says:

    Ref ID Card

    I Have a Certificate of Service Card DD form 217A Jan 1950. It says certificate of United Forces of the United States. This is to certify that …. ….. RA 12 456 657 honorably served on active duty in the RA. Army of united States. On the back of the card it says period of active duty from …….. to …….then asks for the soldiers signature and signature of certifying officer. At the bottom of the card it reads(If found drop in mailbox. postmaster: postage guaranteed. Return to: The Adjutant General, Washington 25, D. C. and the letters GPO 1949 O-852108

    This is what I have used for my ID card for years. It has faded over the years but readable. Went to our local VA office to see if there was away I could get a new one, and the young girl said to me that I had to sign up for some kind of VA medical card before I could get a ID card. I told her I never have asked for anything from the VA, and all I needed was a new ID card. She told me she could not help me, and I left. You know I gave 3 years of my life to U. S. Army and 4 years standby and 1 year to National Guard and no one can help get a new card..

    • Stan, Thank you for contacting us. The military doesn’t issue ID cards to veterans. The card they gave you was an ID card that showed your discharge and service. However, they no longer issue these cards. The VA also does not issue those cards. However, the VA does issue ID cards for those eligible for medical coverage (you may actually be eligible, even if you are not aware of it, and you do not need to use the medical coverage even if you are eligible).

  30. my husband served in the US Navy for 4 years and then was injured and retired at 100% disabled. They changed his rating a few years back from 100% to 80% non-workable and he is paid at 100%. can he get a military ID card so that we can have access to the base commissary? He already has his VA ID card and uses the VA for all of his medical needs.

  31. Andre Moore says:

    Question what percent is needed for a blue I d card for an ex vet? Who is not retired military?

  32. Andre Moore says:

    Ok update I mean is a vet with 30 to 60 percent able for a blue I d card and is not retired?

  33. Ada rogers says:

    My husband was was in the service for 4 year and in Vietnam. We have tried to get a card for myself so I can get discounts at Lowes an such. He has an ID card that he got at the VA hospital. They will not let me use his card because ot has his picture on it. He never leaves the house for anything because he gets nervous around people. Mostly due the the experience in Vietnam. I go everywhere by myself. If you know of anywhere that I can get an id for this please let me no. I don’t feel this is right because he served and we can’t get the benefits. I think we have just as much right as other military spouses.

    • Ada, Thank you for contacting me. Unfortunately, the US Military does not issue ID cards to veterans or their dependents unless they are a retiree. The VA only issues ID cards to veterans who are eligible to receive health care through the VA. They do not issue ID Cards to spouses or other dependents.

      Regarding your husband’s experiences in Vietnam. It is possible he may have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or some other military-related issues from his time in the service. If he has not done so, it would be a good idea for him to see a VA benefits counselor to help determine which benefits he may be eligible to receive.

  34. John Sailors says:

    Hello, I am a Navy veteran and was going to use my military i.d. to get a discount at Disney world. I now live in Australia and am thinking that I might not be able to find it. What can I do to get a replacement I.d.? Thanks for any help you can give in this matter. John

  35. my dad is a military veteran I am his daughter I am 29 years old my dad is now retired but during the time when my mom dad and sister got there military ID I was unable to do so because I was out of state I was wondering am I still able to get the military ID card?

    • lashae, No, you are no longer eligible for a military ID card because you are too old to be considered a qualified military dependent. Children are eligible for a military dependent ID card until age 21, unless they are a full-time student, in which case they are eligible until age 23.

  36. I never had problem as long as I been out of the military. I went to a military post in Brooklyn, I showed them my military I.D. back and front. The security at the gate took the I.D. of my hand and call his supervisor on me because didn’t want him to take my I.D. out of my hand. I was told don’t let people make copies take it out of your hand….

  37. From my experience;

    1. If you had reserve duty and active duty, both should be recorded in box 12.e. on your DD214. If this is not the case, you need to contact your closest Veterans Services Office and see about getting a correction to your DD214. This may require you to provide your stubs of active reserve time if you did any. You may also need to order a copy of your record from the National Archives.

    Note: A DD214 is a strictly controlled document so it is important to keep your copies. A DD214 is not normally issued at the expiration of reserve duty. In 10 years of serving our reserve community on active duty we never issued a DD214 to a reservist. Reservists recalled to active duty are another matter, and this is different from the reserves mandate for AT (annual training).

    2. There are only a few classes of personnel who carry authentic military ID’s:
    – Active duty
    – Reservists
    – Retired
    – 100% disabled/medically retired.
    Everyone else will need to keep a copy of their DD214. There is no official government military ID card available to veterans who fall outside of these
    categories. Retiree cards and medically disabled retiree cards do not carry expiration dates; the box reads: indefinite.

    3. Basically it comes down to keeping a copy of your DD214. If you have done less than say, 20 years your ID card expired on the end date of your enlisted contract or upon decommissioning. If you are not under contract, you will not be issued a card that says at some time that you were. Hopefully and again, you have kept a copy of your DD214.

    4. There is no such thing as a ‘mail order’ government military ID. You will be required to show up in person to obtain one if qualified. I made ID cards for 90 years olds, believe me, where there’s a will, a way will be found. There are also no mobile ID card units that make house calls. Yes, I have been asked. However, given the size of our aging retired community, not necessarily a bad idea.

    5. The veterans organizations out there, American Legion, VFW, etc., are not officially sponsored or a part of the government or the military. Their cards are specific only to those specific organizations which are most notable as lobby groups.

    Good luck.

    Personnel Specialist First Class USN, retired.

  38. Hello everyone,
    From what I’ve read, the answer to my question is No. I thought I would ask here anyway. My husband and I are currently separated. He’s in the navy, and lives in VA, I’m with my family in KY, so is there a way for me to get a new Military ID? Mine expired in January and I really need the insurance, but as far as I know, you cannot get just an insurance card. It would be very difficult and expensive to drive the 10 hour drive to get to the base in VA.

    • Nessa, you should contact your local RAPIDS location. These are the locations where ID cards are issued. You should be eligible for an ID card if you are still active in the DEERS system (the Department of Defense system that tracks all military members and dependents). Call the local ID Card location and ask them which documents you need to obtain an ID card. They should be able to tell you over the phone. Since your husband is will not be with you, you may need to work with them to get the proper documentation. I hope this helps!

  39. I am looking into getting my veterans ID but cannot find a place near Reno, NV. I only served 4 years and was honorably discharged. Am I even qualified for it? If so, does anyone know where I can go get it?

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