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).

new-dod-id-cards

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.
  • 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).

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: December 3, 2012.

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

Comments

  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.

    http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/

    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.

  9. GERALD K FERGUSON, SR says:

    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
    .

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