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, MWR 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. 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 serving in the military (active duty, Guard, Reserve, or Inactive Ready Reserve). Certain dependents are eligible for dependent ID cards as well (see below). You also need to required paperwork. We cover all of these details in this article.
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. Thankfully, the US Government created the Veterans Identification Card Act 2015 which authorizes the VA to issue Veteran ID Cards to all veterans with an honorable discharge. The VA will begin issuing these cards in November 2017.
Please note these Veterans ID Cards are not military ID Cards. They simply show you served honorably in the US Military, and will not function to provide military benefits, base access, or other veterans benefits. 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.
- Veterans ID Card. (See Section Below For Most Up to Date Information).
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. Here is a RAPIDS Appointment Scheduler user guide to help navigate the site and set up your ID card appointment.
Veterans ID Card Information
Veterans ID Cards. The VA will begin issuing official DoD issued military veteran ID card to veterans with an Honorable Discharge issued starting November 2017. Veterans must have an honorable discharge to be eligible for this new Veterans ID card. Learn more about how to upgrade your military discharge characterization.
Veteran Health Identification Cards. The VA also issues Veteran Health Identification Cards for veterans who are in the VA medical system. Many veterans believe they need to be receiving service connected disability benefits in order to be eligible for VA health care benefits. This is not the case. All veterans are potentially eligible, based on different criteria, including when and where they served, whether or not they have a service-connected health condition, if they were discharged for medical reasons, served in a war zone, recently returned from an overseas deployment, or other conditions. Each situation is unique and each veteran should contact the VA to determine their eligibility status.
Other Veteran ID Cards. Some states, including Virginia, issue state veterans ID cards. Many 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: Most, but not all states, offer these cards at this time).
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. Thankfully there are many other ways to prove your military service.
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