Update: The VA has announced that the Veterans Identification Cards may not be released until sometime in 2017. The cost for the Veterans ID card has not yet been determined. In the mean time, we have updated this article to include instructions for printing a VA Proof of Service Letter so you can show an official letter from the VA proving your military service.
Congress passed the Veterans Identification Card Act, a new bill that would create a government issued Veterans ID card, something many veterans have been requesting for years. The bill was unanimously passed by both the House and the Senate. President Obama signed the bill into law on July 20, 2015.
A Solution Many Veterans Have Been Seeking
Currently, the military only issues ID cards for current servicemembers, retirees, and certain veterans with a 100% disability rating. The only option many veterans have to prove their service is a VA ID card used for health care (if eligible), or a state-issued drivers license with a Veterans Designation (but not all states currently offer this).
Many veterans who were not eligible for the above ID cards had a difficult time proving their military service, and often carried a DD Form 214, which contains personal information that should be kept secure (such as the veteran’s SSN, birthday, etc.). Best practices for avoiding identity theft recommend leaving your SSN and other personally identifying information in a locked and secure place to avoid potential loss.
When Will We See the Veterans ID Cards?
This bill was signed into law in July 2015, and the VA was given limited guidance regarding when the cards should be ready for veterans. We are still waiting for the official word on when the VA will begin issuing ID cards. This should happen as soon as the process and details have been finalized and the VA gets the details and process in place. The bill authorizes the VA to begin as soon as two months from now, but it may take longer. The VA is also authorized to charge individuals for the cost of the card (the price has not been set as of the publication date).
Update – May 2016: The VA has announced they are still working on the implementation plan for issuing these Veterans ID cards. The VA has the option for charging veterans to help cover the administrative costs of issuing the ID cards. At the time of this update, the VA has mentioned the cards may not be available for issue until sometime in 2017. We will be sure to update this article again when we have concrete information regarding the release date and any associated costs.
Veterans ID Card for Identificaation Use & Proof of Service Only
The new ID cards will only be valid for proving military service. The new cards cannot be used for benefits through the VA, to access military installations, or to receive other military or veterans benefits. However, those who are currently eligible for benefits through the military or VA will continue to have them through their current methods.
How Veterans Can Prove Their Service
There are several methods for proving your military service. Here are the most common methods and availability:
- Military ID Card: Current servicemembers and retirees can use their issued military ID card.
- Veterans Health Identification Card: Available through the VA for eligible veterans.
- State Issued Drivers License or ID Card: Available through most states.
- VA Proof of Service Letter: Available through the VA’s eBenefits Logon Service.
- Veterans Organization Membership Card: Many Veterans Service Organizations give members ID cards that certify their military service.
Click on the links in the section above for more information for each of these methods. See below for instructions for obtaining a VA Proof of Service Letter:
VA Proof of Service Letter Instructions
You can print a VA Proof of Service Letter from the VA eBenefits website by first logging into your account on the eBenefits site, then using the following instructions
- At the top of the page under the eBenefits logo, hover your mouse over the “Manage” tab. In the dropdown that appears below it, click on “Documents and Records.”
- In the left column on the following page, click on “VA Letters.”
- At the bottom of the following page, click on “Veteran Proof of Service.”
Step One: Documents & Records
Step Two: Access Your VA Letters
Step Three: Download Proof of Service Letter
Step Four: Clicking the Veteran Proof of Service Letter link will open a new tab or automatically download a PDF (depending on your browser settings). You can print this letter, then cut out the card. An image of my letter is copied above with my personal information redacted.
We will update this article in the future when more details become available.