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How Can I Get a Veterans' I.D. Card?By Matt Zamosky
The title of this article echoes one of the most frequent questions that clients ask the Westmoreland County Department of Veterans Affairs. Strictly speaking, there is no such thing. The most common form of identification issued to vets is the VA Healthcare Card. This credential, as the name implies, is only given to veterans enrolled in the VA Healthcare System. VA healthcare eligibility is automatic for those with a service-connected disability, former POWs, veterans that served in Vietnam or in theater during the Persian Gulf War, or those that meet other service qualifiers. The majority of our former troops do not conform to any of these qualifiers and must meet prescribed financial guidelines to enroll. Simply put, veterans’ benefits that are connected to service are not tied to an individual’s finances; those not related to service are normally contingent upon meeting income and net worth restrictions.
In the near future Pennsylvania will implement a veterans’ driver’s license. It will be available through PennDOT at the same price as a standard or replacement license. Applicants will be required to provide proof of service with the initial application. The veterans’ driver’s license will, with near certainty, surpass the VA Healthcare Card as the most common form of veterans’ identification in Pennsylvania.
The problem is that it may not fulfill the requirement most vets need an I.D. for, the coveted veterans’ discount. Unfortunately, retailers set their own requirements for discount eligibility. Many retailers accept a discharge (DD214), but others require a military or VA Healthcare Card. While some savings extend to all vets, others are exclusive to active duty military, military retirees, and/or disabled veterans. In example, Lowe’s and Home Depot offer a year-round 10% discount to all military I.D. holders (active, reserve, retiree, and dependent) and disabled veterans. Associates are supposed to ensure that the VA Healthcare Card states “service-connected.” Both retailers extend the discount to all veterans on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day. Other companies have different guidelines. To confuse matters, store managers often have the power to change these policies locally at their discretion.
For questions about VA Healthcare eligibility, call VA Pittsburgh at 412-360-6993. For assistance in applying, call Westmoreland County Department of Veterans Affairs at 724-830-3530. Information concerning the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Driver’s License will disseminated through news outlets once the program is up and running. And be sure to ask if a business extends a discount to veterans the next time you’re shopping, you earned it.