Veteran identification card

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The Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC) is an identification card issued by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for eligible veterans for use at VA medical facilities. The VHIC protects the privacy of veterans' sensitive information, as it no longer displays the Social Security number or date of birth on the front of the card. The VHIC will only display the veteran's name, picture, and special eligibility indicators - Service Connected, Purple Heart and former POW, if applicable, on the front of the card. Only veterans who are eligible for VA medical benefits will receive the card.[1] Unofficial cards such as the Veterans Advantage Card offer discounts to veterans through the Wounded Warrior Project, unlike the official veteran identification card offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Front side of a VHIC
Back side of a VHIC

Use purpose[edit]


The only purpose of the card is for identification and check-in for VA appointments at VA medical centers (VAMC), outpatient clinics (OPC) and community based outpatient clinics (CBOC). The VHIC cannot be used as a credit card or an insurance card, and it does not authorize or pay for care at non-VA facilities.[2]


This is not a "veterans discount card". However, there are a variety of different forms of ID, including a military identification card and the Veteran Identification Card (VIC). There are also membership cards issued by various veteran's groups, including the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Many people use their DD214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty) for identification.

None of these identifications automatically entitle a veteran to any discounts or privileges. Each individual business determines its own criteria for offering a discount, and each individual business determines to whom it is going to offer a discount.

Access to military bases[edit]

The VIC can not be used to gain entry to military bases. However, it can be used as an ID upon request by gate guards when entering the base with an escort, such as active duty personnel, a person with authorization to access military bases. According to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, former service members have access, if they are 20-year retired veterans, medically retired veterans or 100 percent service connected VA-rated disabled veterans with the U.S. Uniformed Services Privilege and Identification Card. Veterans who are base civilian employees at military bases enter with the Common Access Card.

Unofficial veterans ID cards[edit]

Many veterans groups and printing companies advertise offers for "veterans ID cards". However, these are not an official veterans identification card issued by the government, and it is highly unlikely these cards would be recognized in any official capacity. Caution should be used before giving any personal identification to a non-government organization.

Lost or stolen VHIC[edit]

Veterans should contact the VA medical facility where they took their picture to request a new card be re-issued. Since the photo is retained, there is no need for the veteran to go to the VA to retake a picture for the card. Identifying information such as name and other information will be asked to assure proper identification of the caller.

Veterans Health Identification Card (as of 2014)

Veterans Health Identification Card[edit]

In 2014 the Veterans Administration established a newly designed Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC) to replace the legacy Veterans Identification Card (VIC)[3]. The new Veterans Health Identification Card comes with additional security features and a different look and feel, replaced the old Veteran Identification Card, first issued in 2004. The new cards will protect against identity theft and will be personalized with the emblem of the veteran’s branch of service. Other new features add "VA" in Braille, to help visually impaired veterans, along with VA phone numbers and emergency-care instructions.


Basic eligibility[edit]

If one served in the active military service and were separated under any condition other than dishonorable, you may qualify for VA health care benefits. Current and former members of the Reserves or National Guard who were called to active duty by a federal order and completed the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty may be eligible for VA health benefits as well.

Reserves or National Guard members with active duty for training purposes only do not meet the basic eligibility requirement.

Minimum duty requirements[edit]

Most veterans who enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered active duty after October 16, 1981, must have served 24 continuous months or the full period for which they were called to active duty in order to be eligible. This minimum duty requirement may not apply to veterans who were discharged for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, for a hardship or "early out", or those who served prior to September 7, 1980. Since there are a number of other exceptions to the minimum duty requirements, VA encourages all veterans to apply so that they may determine their enrollment eligibility.[4]

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
  • Make less than 62k a year,
  • Honorable, General, or Other-Than-Honorable, Clemency, Bad Conduct Discharge.

This is not a comprehensive list and veterans should check with the VA to see if they qualify. Many unique circumstances lead to qualification.[5]

  • Dishonorable Discharge: With this characterization of service, ALL veterans' benefits are lost, regardless of any past honorable service.

Presently, veteran identification cards are only issued at the federal level by the government for entry into VA Medical Facilities; DD Form 214, a "certificate of release or discharge", has been issued to all veterans since 1950. The DD214 is criticized as being too bulky and sensitive to carry around for veterans' benefits in comparison to a pocket-sized card.

On September 2011, the Veterans ID Card Act, HR 2985, was introduced by Reps. Todd Akin, R-Mo., and Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, both Army veterans. The bill would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to issue photo identification cards to veterans who are not retirees (who receive identification cards from the Department of Defense) but who also do not presently receive VA medical benefits.[6]

State and local veterans cards[edit]

Other jurisdictions at the state, county and municipal levels have also created their own identification card schemes for easier veteran access to discounts and other benefits within the jurisdiction. In most states, a person's driver's license or state identification card may optionally carry a veteran status identifier.

As of 2016, this is available in the following US areas: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington state, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.[7]



  1. ^ "Veterans ID Card". Department of Veterans Affairs. 
  2. ^ "Veterans Identification Card". Dept. of Veterans Affairs. 
  3. ^ "New ID Cards for Vets Enrolled in VA Health Care -- Veterans Health Administration". Retrieved 2018-07-16. 
  4. ^ "Veterans Eligibility". Dept of Veterans Affairs. 
  5. ^ "How To Get a Veterans ID Card". Military Benefits. 
  6. ^ Rick Maze (September 22, 2011). "Bill would create ID card for all veterans". Navy Times. 
  7. ^ Veterans ID on Driver's License Military Benefits. Retrieved October 17, 2016.