Veteran’s ID Card Act would extend service to all vets

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) introduced the Veteran’s ID Card Act last week, a bipartisan effort to give all veterans the chance to receive an ID card through the Veterans Administration at no cost to U.S. taxpayers.

Under current policy, only veterans who have a minimum of 20 years of service, or those who are receiving medical care for a military-related disability, are eligible for an ID card.

“Over the years, I have heard from countless veterans who have expressed frustration over their inability to prove their military service in our armed forces,” Buchanan, whose constituency in Florida’s 16th District includes over 70,000 veterans, said. “A simple, affordable, standardized ID card will make life a little bit easier for our veterans and serve as a reminder to folks that these brave men and women deserve all the care and respect a grateful nation can offer.”

Today, veterans who have not yet qualified for an ID card only get a paper-issued DD-214 document for proof of their status as a veteran. The DD-214 contains critical information, including Social Security number and other details that put  veterans at risk for identity theft, should the document be lost or stolen. Buchanan’s bill would address such concerns by providing all veterans with an easier, safer method of proving their military service. A standard ID card also will give employers a more efficient way of tracking and verifying a job applicant’s service record.

The Veteran’s ID Card Act would not create any new costs to taxpayers, as the cost of issuing the ID cards would be offset by a nominal fee paid by veterans. A provision in the legislation requires the VA secretary to review costs every five years and make any necessary adjustments to the fee schedule so that all costs remain covered.

Buchanan’s proposal has been endorsed by AMVETS, Vietnam Veterans of America and Veterans for Common Sense. It also has a long list of co-sponsoring legislators, including U.S. Reps. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Chris Stewart (R-UT), Louise Slaughter (D-NY),  Randy Forbes (R-VA), Joe Courtney (D-CT), William Keating (D-MA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Alma Adams (D-NC), Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Bobby Rush (D-IL).

“AMVETS is especially supportive of this cost-neutral legislation because it will not only provide a much-needed improvement over the current proof-of-military-service document, the DD-214, but it will be carried out in a fiscally responsible way, which will have minimal impact on the Veterans Administration, which finds itself mired in the midst of massive claims backlogs and other issues,” Diane Zumatto, national legislative director for AMVETS, said.