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. Barbara K says

    I’m an Army veteran and am enrolled in VA. I have VA ID card. My question is: Why when I recently went to home depot (who gives military and veterans discount) I was told that because my VA ID didn’t say “service connected” on it, I didn’t qualify for a discount.
    I was told it was “policy” that the card has to say service connected. Their policy isn’t for disabled veterans, it’s for all veterans, period! What’s going on with that?

    • Anon Emus says

      I would imagine having something indicating “service connected” would straddle the lines of HIPPA and should not be noted on an id card. If anything, take your business to Lowes. Just about the same items without the hassle.

      • Karen says

        Lowes in Phoenix is the hardest place to get military discount. We have a drivers license with Veteran on it and still CANNOT get the discount. Now Home Depot will give us the discount with the license.

  2. Keith E. Gestring says

    I have a Identification Card issued in 1998, it only has my SSN on it, I have been told a new one must be issued showing the ID Number on it. This is asked for by civilian hospitals to be eligible for Tri-care-for-life benefits when filing claims. I have been in contact with the Deers Program, they also said the same. Although my ID card says INDEFINITE, WHO IS CORRECT. I HAVE BEEN WITH THE DEERS PROGRAM SINCE 2001. They never issued me a new ID Card in 2001.

    Can I still use my present ID card with only he SSN on it when filing claims

    • says

      Keith, If the hospitals are requesting information that is only found on the new ID cards and DEERS also says you need a new card, then I would get a new ID card. The indefinite label on your card only refers to the expiration date. But if it doesn’t have current information, then I would get a new card with the current information. This will help with filing your medical insurance claims. Otherwise your claims might take longer to process or may possibly be denied.

  3. Kris McLamb says

    How do handle this issue:
    Dependent Child turns 21 Aug 6th, school does not officially start till Aug 31. Pass & ID gave new ID card dated the start date of school. Dependent has been enrolled for this fall semester since April……
    Dependent went to ER on Aug 7th.
    How/why would military not cover dependent for the month of Aug. Do you know who do we contact???
    Thanks for any info/guidance you might have.

  4. Rehanna clements says

    My Dad is a veteran, and have his VA Card, My question is could i get a Military ID card to recieve Military discounts, being his dependent? if so, how?

    • says

      Rehanna, Thank you for contacting me. The only way to get a Military ID card is to be a member of the military. There are military dependent ID cards for qualified dependents. To qualify for a military dependent ID card, your father must still be a current military member or retiree, and you must be a qualified dependent (usually age 18 or under, or up to age 21 if you are still attending college). If this does not apply, then you would be ineligible for a Military dependent ID card. I hope this helps answer your question.

  5. Naomi says

    Hi…my dad was a logistics officer for the department of defends for 30 years but has been retired for thirty years and I’m 28 and no longer a dependent….. my boyfriend now is stationed in Italy. And I’m going to see him over thanksgiving ….is there any way I can get a temp military id card for a week so I could stay with him? I would never and would not want to take advantage of the system but we are bog married yet and I would only really need it for five days

    • says

      Naomi, Thank you for contacting me. You won’t need a military ID to visit him. He should be able to sign you on to the base so you can visit. You would most likely need to be escorted on the base with him or he would have to meet you at the gate if you weren’t entering at the same time. Have him call his Pass & ID office or base visitor’s office for specific information on how to get signed onto base.

  6. Stan P says

    Hey, I served in the USAFR 17 yrs. I have a DD-214. Served time overseas. During that time I never claimed any medical benefits. Am I eligible for a Veteran ID card?

  7. Daniel Sampson says

    HR91 was passed by Congress in July and signed into law by the President. It took effect on September 20, 2015. Its purpose is to provide identification for prior military that didnt stay in until retirement. I contacted my V.A. in Pa. but was promptly sent to a voicemail. I dont expect a call back…we all know the V.A. trys to wait you out until you either pass on or give up so I am not sure what the process entails beyond contacting them. hopoe this helps guys. Semper Fi!!

  8. Jes says

    Maybe a little related.. I am separated with an honorable discharge, can I go back and visit a base? I’m asking because we use to be stationed in Germany and may be traveling back to that area sometime.

    • says

      Jes, US military bases are not generally open to the public, even veterans with an honorable discharge. That said, some bases will offer tours on a limited basis if you schedule it in advance or have a specific purpose for the visit. This is not standard for every base and varies depending on the mission, security level at the time of request/visit, and other factors. You would need to contact the base public affairs office to see if this is possible and for more info. If you know someone who is currently stationed on the base, you may be able to have them sponsor you on and give you a tour. But otherwise, you can’t just show up at a base and go for a visit. I hope this is helpful.

    • Ken says

      Many of the bases in Germany have closed. My last visit in Jan 2013 had most of K-town, Heidelberg, Mannhiem, Stugart, Wertzburg all shutting down. So sad seeing the K-town PX/BX leveled to a dirt parking lot. Most everything left is moving to Ramstein.

  9. SANG PARK says

    I have served as an Army Reservist from 1994 to 2002.
    I used to carry the military photo ID but I lost the card and I don’t have it anymore.

    Where can I get reissued for photo ID?
    I am not in active duty nor Veteran. What catagory do I fit in?
    I have DD-214 on hand but some places, you need to have a military photo ID.

    Please help.

    Thank you

  10. Paul says

    Lowe’s in West Virginia will honor only a VA medical benefits card. The veteran designation on the drivers’ license and even a copy of a DD-214 will not pass. More than likely, if you’re a Cold War vet, you’re going to be out of luck – almost like you didn’t serve at all in Lowe’s eyes.

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