Congress OKs new ID cards for all veterans

In a rare fit of being able to pass meaningful legislation, Congress just approved the “Veterans Identification Card Act of 2015”. The bill was introduced by Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Florida Republican.

via Military Times:

“This legislation will assist veterans in proving that they are indeed veterans,” said Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif. “The majority of service members leave before retirement … and are sometimes challenged to provide proof of their honorable service. This is a simple way to resolve this issue.”

The cards would not replace medical IDs or official defense retiree IDs for veterans, and could not be used as proof of eligibility for obtaining federal benefits.

But they would serve as easy proof of military service for many veterans who complain they have to carry around copies of their discharge paperwork to get discounts or services at a host of private businesses.

More from the NY Times:

Under current law, some veterans who did not serve for at least 20 years or receive VA health services must carry paper documents to prove their veteran status. A form used by many veterans contains Social Security numbers and other details that advocates warn could put veterans at risk of identity theft.

The form in question is the DD-214, a piece of paper issued by the Department of Defense which shows one’s veteran status to civilian institutions to access veteran-specific services and discounts. Similar cards have been issued over recent years at he state and county levels in places such as New Jersey, Michigan and Pennsylvania, while some states favor placing “VETERAN” on driver’s licenses and general state ID cards.

Besides benefitting vets who are homeless, disabled or are in other straits, it can also greatly benefit or otherwise impact LGBT former servicemembers of the military. For transgender vets who have been discharged, the problem of needing to change their personal names on their DD-214 will likely repeat themselves on the naming of the upcoming cards. For those who were discharged under “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and the earlier “blue discharges” who want upgrades of their discharge status from “less-than-honorable” to “honorable”, the card may make it easier for them to access veteran discounts than having to pull out their old DD-214 forms, and would be another step to fuller respect after upgrading their discharge status.


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