By Eric Dehm
*UPDATE 2* The Vets.Gov ID application website, which has had issues since applications opened, has crashed. If you go to the ID application section of the site you are greeted with an error message that reads. “We’re sorry. The Veteran ID Card system is having trouble handling the many requests for cards, and can’t accept your application right now. We’re working to fix the problem as fast as we can.”
*UPDATE 1* ConnectingVets has learned from a VA source that the below mockup is “pretty close” to the final product vets can expect when they receive their new VA ID card. Those with a sharp eye will notice that this mock-up is actually the Veterans Health Identification Card that was issued beginning in 2014. Our VA sources say vets can expect the design to be very similar.
As of Nov. 29th, all veterans with an honorable discharge status are now eligible to apply for a free ID card from the VA by visiting Vets.Gov (note: to apply for the ID you must create a ID.me account if you don’t already have one).
Here’s what you need to know about the card:
What does the card do? It is essentially a government issued verification of veteran status. Simply put: it’s proof you’re a vet. Need to prove you’re a veteran to get a special discount or free service? This is the card in your wallet in lieu of carrying around a DD-214 with you.
Who is eligible to receive the card? As of now, veterans with Honorable and General discharges. Other Than Honorable (OTH) discharges or lower are not eligible. Kris Goldsmith is the founder of High Ground Veterans Advocacy, and is at the forefront of the “Bad Paper” discussion on PTSD-related discharges. He’s raised issues with the exclusion on Twitter. He says not including those with OTH discharges leaves out “our most vulnerable.” Goldsmith also says he spoke with VA Secretary Shulkin directly about the issue, and believes the VA will at least look in to changing the policy.
How long will it take to get the card? According to a press release from the VA, eligible vets who apply “should” receive the card within 60 days. Why use the word “should?” Well, that’s a good question. At face value, it would seem to mean that while they hope to be turning around the cards as planned, they’re not going to guarantee it. Connecting Vets’ VA expert (and former VA employee) Jonathan Kaupanger says don’t count on it: “It means they’re not going to get it within 60 days. From my personal history of getting ID cards with the VA… it never happens on time. I’ve never once gotten an ID card from the VA on time, and that’s just a staff ID.”
What does the card look like? That’s still a bit of a mystery according to AMVETS Executive Director Joe Chenelly. “We still don’t exactly know what it looks like. We actually made some news when we tweeted out a photo of a prototype that we were given. It had the Office Depot logo on the back… and had a typo. So hopefully all that’s been ironed out. I look forward to getting mine.”
Will this count as an official form of ID? No, this is not an official government ID. If you need to prove your personal identity for official purposes, you need your passport, driver’s license and all the other usual suspects.