Why is there a Veterans designation on a drivers license?

I was recently asked “What is the benefit to the Veterans designation on your driver’s license?”

Well, I’m so glad you asked! Unfortunately there is no federal veteran’s identification card. That’s correct, not all people that honorably served in the United States Armed Services have a military ID card.

Wait? What? How can you not have a military ID card if you’re a veteran?

Typically speaking the military issues ID cards to those no longer actively serving for two reasons, they retired, or they are disabled.  Those that served but did not retire and were not disabled do not typically get ID cards. So, there is a group of veterans that do not have ID cards.  We are those that served but are not disabled and did not retire. We could have served two years or eighteen, there is no distinction.

For those of us that fit into this group our only proof of service is a form called the DD-214. The beauty of this form is it has a bunch of information ripe for identity theft, in particular our Social Security number. Plus it’s a full size sheet of paper and who really wants to carry that around all the time. There are some states that recognize this gap and as a result they now have a veteran’s designation on the driver’s license. What does this designation mean? Well in the state of Oregon you can only get this designation by presenting your DD-214 that shows you served and were discharged honorably.

So, when you ask a veteran for his military ID card to prove service, don’t be surprised if he can’t provide one. They may not have been given one when they separated from the military.  Next time you see someone only accepting a military ID card as proof of service, remind them they are excluding a group of veterans. We served, we just chose not to do 20 years.

Oh, and hopefully this will change soon. In 2015 the Veterans Identification Card Act was passed, but the Veterans Administration says it won’t be until 2017 sometime that they can actually start issuing identification cards.

If you are interested in reading further: http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/26568/veteran-id-cards-options/

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