Okay, so say it’s Veterans Day and you’re a veteran and you’ve been waiting in line all morning to get your free meal at Applebee’s. But then you suddenly realize that you forgot to bring a copy of your DD-214, and you don’t have a Department of Veterans Affairs health card ID because you’re one of the many millions of veterans who hasn’t enrolled in the VA health care system.
Well, guess what? You may have stormed the beaches of Normandy, but unless you have hard proof of your military service, you’re paying $13.29 for that bowl of spicy Firecracker Shrimp Cavatappi.
It’s exactly situations like this that prompted Congress to pass the Veterans Identification Card Act in 2015. The law, which was originally sponsored by Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida, orders the VA to issue a hard-copy photo ID to any honorably discharged veteran who applies for one. Currently, only veterans enrolled in the VA health-care system or who receive retirement pay have photo ID cards.
Veteran Health Identification CardVA graphic
“Goods, services and promotional activities are often offered by public and private institutions to veterans who demonstrate proof of service in the military, but it is impractical for a veteran to always carry Department of Defense form DD-214 discharge papers to demonstrate such proof,” the law states.
Now, after two long years, vet cards — actual, physical vet cards that provide undeniable proof that you are, in fact, a god among men — will be available nationwide starting in November.
The cards will be available free of charge to any honorably discharged veteran who applies for one online via the VA website; however, a VA official told Military.com that the department has yet to finalize a “timeline for how long it will take to receive a card” once the application is sent in. Given the VA’s reputation for being a well-oiled paperwork processing super machine, I think it’s safe to assume that the turnaround time will be lightning fast.
There are currently about 22 million living U.S. military veterans. Some of them live in states that allow people to identify themselves as veterans on their driver’s licenses, in which case, of course, they wouldn’t need one of these cool new vet cards.
We do not know what the cards will look like, except that they will include a photograph of the veteran, his or her name, and a non-Social Security identification number. We can only hope that the cards also include an image of a professional athlete STANDING for the American flag. And maybe like a bald eagle soaring around in the background somewhere.
Also, will the new cards include the veteran’s date of birth? And if so could a veteran be able to use the card to prove they are old enough to purchase, say, a 30-rack of Keystone Light? In an emailed response to these hard-hitting questions, the VA's office of public affairs told Task & Purpose: "No and no."
Update 10.6.2017 2:40pm EST: This article has been changed to include the VA's response ("No and no") to our questions about whether or not the new veteran ID card can be used to buy alcohol.