VCS Supports Bill that Would Make “Proving You’re a Veteran” Easier

(Veterans for Common Sense – April 9, 2015) — Joined by Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and AMVETS, Veterans for Common Sense immediately registered support for the Veterans’ I.D. Card Act (H.R. 91), a bill authored by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) joined by a bipartisan cohort of cosigners.  The legislation would make it easier for many veterans to prove their veteran status.

According to a press release issued by Buchanan’s office, and published news stories in the Tampa Tribune, the Bradenton Times, and the Sunshine State News:

“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,” said Buchanan, who represents a congressional district home to more than 70,000 veterans, in a media release. “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.”

Anthony Hardie, Director of Veterans for Common Sense and a Bradenton, Florida resident, hailed the congressman’s proposal saying the “VCS is honored to support this simple, make-sense legislation. Thank you to Rep. Buchanan for introducing this legislation, which would make it easier for many veterans to easily prove their veteran status in a simple, convenient, and credible manner.”

“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 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) which finds itself mired in the midst of massive claims backlogs and other issues,” said Diane M. Zumatto, National Legislative Director for AMVETS.

Many businesses honor veterans for their military service by providing promotions and discounts.  However, for many veterans, it is inconvenient at best to readily demonstrate their veteran status beyond carrying their full DD Form 214, which also contains their social security number and may also contain other personal information that the veteran prefers not to reveal to even well-intentioned strangers.

In particular, veterans who don’t have military retirement or similar ID cards or who are not enrolled in VA healthcare so therefore don’t have a VA ID card would benefit from this legislation once implemented.

While most states have implemented programs to denote veteran status on state drivers licenses, some states still do not have such programs.

Additionally, some States like Wisconsin, Iowa, and Georgia boldly spell out the full word, “veteran,” in bright red on the driver’s license.  For some veterans, this may be a matter of privacy and they may not wish to share their veteran status so publicly on their driver’s license, which is standard required identification for many business, banking, employment, and other public and private sector purposes.  Other states, including Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, and Wyoming have more discreet, single-letter or symbol markings to denote veteran status on the state driver’s license.

This legislation would provide a simple remedy for all of those and other issues by directing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to issue very low cost veteran identification cards to qualified veterans with honorable service using existing VA identification card locations and processes.

The new I.D. card would be available at VA facilities at very low cost — currently estimated to be around $2 —  to veterans with honorable service in the U.S. Armed Forces who want another way to prove their veteran status.  Those most likely to be interested in obtaining the new veteran I.D. card are veterans who don’t have military retiree or VA healthcare enrollment identification cards and live in the many states where a veteran identifier still isn’t available on the state driver’s license.

The following members of Congress have co-sponsored Buchanan’s legislation: Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Rep. William Keating (D-MA), Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC), Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL).

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