Veteran ID cards have a big commercial logo on back; whaddya think?

Jonathan Kaupanger
July 06, 2018 - 11:42 am

Photo by Department of Veterans Affairs

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Almost three years after promised, the Veterans ID Card Act of 2015 is a reality.  Over 10,000 of the new ID cards are finally in the hands of veterans, but some are not happy because of the big Office Depot logo on the cards.

“I think that’s tacky commercialization,” said Val, an Air Force veteran.  “I can recognize the fiscal side of the decision, but still believe it’s tacky.”

Having a partner to help pay for something isn’t new at VA.  In 2016, the CHIP-IN for Vets Act was passed which let companies in local communities help by either donating land or with construction costs.  The first example of a new VA facility built with commercial underwriting is the $86 million Omaha VA Medical Center.  VA had $56 million set aside for this facility but a local company is responsible for the remaining $30 million.

“It is the unfortunate way of the world these days,” said Army veteran Angela.  “Everything is sponsored, from commercial breaks to stadiums to cars and people.  I don’t think it’s a horrible idea especially if there’s no funding for it.”

Congress didn’t actually provide funding for the cards, but they did create a way for the VA to pay for the cards.  The law states, “The Secretary shall charge a fee to each veteran who receives an identification card issued under this section, including a replacement identification card.” It allows the VA secretary to charge veterans enough to cover the cost of producing the cards, including “any additional equipment or personnel required to carry out this section.”

In other words: you're paying for it.  Unless. 

The idea to partner on these cards was presented to Office Depot.  VA hasn’t said how much the cards are costing Office Depot, but the company is covering the cost of printing and mailing through 2020.

In an interview with North County Public Radio Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-FL), a sponsor of the 2015 law, said that the partnership is saving money for veterans.  “It’s not a big logo or anything,” Buchanan said.  “They’re really picking up a lot of the cost.  So it’s no cost to the taxpayer, no cost to the veteran.  So I think at the end of the day, it’s a good tradeoff.”

Chris, a Navy veteran said, “It doesn’t bother me one way or the other, but the logo should be on the back of the card and smaller than the VA logo.”

“Unfortunately, my comments are probably on the naïve side when it comes to how things get paid for in D.C.,” said Navy vet Greg, before adding, “I’d still like the Swoosh on an aircraft carrier... ‘This ass kickin’ brought to you by Nike!’”

The cards were meant to be mailed last year, but the process was ripe with problems.  The VA’s website for the cards crashed due to demand in December.  Then VA stopped the process until January, then again in March there was another delay in distribution.  More than 15,000 veterans have been approved for the new cards and VA is sifting through another 72,000 applications.

You can apply for your new Veteran ID Card through Vets.gov and clicking on “Apply for a printed veteran ID Card” at the bottom of the page. 

“I think it’s fortunate that Office Depot stepped up to print and ship the cards for vets,” said Mike, also a Navy Veteran.  “It’s a sad state of affairs when our government orders something to be done, but fails to provide funding for it.  They should have their logo on the card.  It will be a constant reminder that big business stepped up when our elected officials did not.”

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