The U.S. government provides a Veterans ID card under a few circumstances for which most Veterans do not qualify to receive. Most government agencies accept a DD214 but it’s oversized, too important to always carry around and it’s doesn’t provide photo identification. Fortunately, there are several ways to get a Veterans ID card in order to prove military service and receive access to government benefits and discounts from restaurants and stores.
The Veterans Identification Act of 2015 ordered the VA to issue identification cards to veterans and is now available in print form (not digital as of yet).
How to get a veterans ID card recognized by government agencies, restaurants and retail stores
VA Veterans Identification Card (VIC) – The VA Veterans ID Card (VIC) is a card that the VA now provides to most veterans. The VIC is different from a Veteran Health Identification card, military retiree card or DoD Uniformed Services. As such, the VA identification cards cannot be used as proof of eligibility to any federal benefits and does not grant access to military installations.
State Issued Veterans Designation on Driver’s Licenses or Identification Cards – If you reside in one of the many states that currently offers a veterans designation on a driver’s license or ID card this is the easiest and best option that both government agencies and businesses universally accept. The states require varying proof of veterans status so be sure to check with the DMV before applying. Many will only require your DD214 but some states require additional documentation or will accept supplemental documentation to a DD214. Costs be state range from free to about $15 although even if free there most likely is fee to re-issue a card if not already up for renewal. More information on Veterans ID’s provided by states can be found here.
Free Veterans Identification Proof of Service Letter – Access and print a letter through the joint VA/DoD web portal, eBenefits which serves as proof of honorable service.
State Veterans ID Cards – Most states are opting to put a Veterans designation on a driver’s license or ID card. Virginia, thus far, is one state that issues a separate Veterans ID card which can be obtained through the DMV. This means you would have a driver’s license and a state veterans ID card.
County Court House or Clerk Office Issued Veterans Cards – Some Counties such as in New Jersey and New York have opted to provide county veteran ID cards until the states can begin offering. Check with your local county courthouse or clerk office to see if they offer veterans cards. These cards are not official but for the purposes of receiving discounts from businesses this should work. This has been confirmed by many veterans.
Retired Veterans With 20 Years of Service Veterans ID – Retired veterans who have served honorably for more than 20 years can obtain an ID card on base by submitting a copy of their retirement paperwork and they will be issued a DD form 2 (blue colored) ID card. There are two types of ID cards issued to retirees. A DD Form 2A (Ret-Red) ID card is issued to “Gray Area” retirees (prior to retired pay eligibility), and a DD Form 2 (Ret-Blue) ID card is issued to a retiree who is actively receiving retired pay.
ID Cards for Eligible Family Members of Living and Deceased Retired Soldiers – DD Form 1172-1 (Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card) is issued to eligible Family members of “Gray Area” retirees. A DD Form 1173 (Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card) is issued to eligible Family members of a retiree. The same rules apply for the DD Form 1173 for Reduced Retirement Eligible Retiree Family members; their ID Cards will not have full medical benefits until the Sponsor is age 60.
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Identification Card (VIC) – Also known as a veterans universal Access photo ID Card, many veterans are eligible for a VA health card and may not know it. The VA issues IDs to anybody who needs to access a VA medical center and many businesses accept these as valid proof of service.
Veterans who may qualify:
- Veterans with a service-connected disability rating
- Served in combat or in a war zone
- Medical conditions incurred while in the service
- Location of service
- Served in theater of combat operations within the past 5 years
- Received a Purple Heart Medal
- Former Prisoner of War
- Receive VA pension or disability benefits
* This is not a comprehensive list and veterans should check with the VA to see if they qualify. Many unique circumstances lead to qualification.
Service Organization Veteran ID Cards – Many national and local veteran service organizations provide ID cards such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion. While this are not official government issued proof of id many businesses accept these cards as proof of military service.
Additional Ways to Prove Military Service
- DD12 Form 214 – These are veterans discharge papers and separation documents and many government agencies and businesses accept this paperwork accompanied with photo ID as valid proof of military service.
- Photo in Uniform – Some businesses will accept of a photo of a veteran in uniform.
- Honor System – Some businesses utilize the honor system. If you say you’re a veteran that’s good enough for them.
Options to Prove Military Service Online
- .mil Email Address – This applies more to active-duty but many businesses will establish proof of service if communicating from a .mil email address.
- APO/FPO Address – If purchasing a produce and can ship to an APO/FPO address businesses may accept this in order to receive a discount.
- Private Verification Services – Private companies such as Sheer ID and ID.me (formerly Troop ID) verify military service in order to take advantage of partner offers and discounts.