How do I get a Veteran Identification Card?

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By Larry Dandridge

There are many types of identification cards you can use to show you’re a Veteran. Learn about the different types of VA ID cards at 

A Department of Defense (DoD) Identification (ID) Card is used to show your military status and to get access to services at military bases. You may also use this card to get discounts offered to Vets at many businesses. If you have a DoD ID Card, you don’t need to request another type of photo ID card to prove you’re a Veteran. 

You may be eligible for a DoD ID Card if one of the following is true: (1.) You are retired from the military, or (2.) You are on active duty, or (3.) You are in the National Guard, the Reserves, the Selected Reserves, or Inactive Ready Reserve. Depending on your status, DoD issues either a Common Access Card (CAC) or a Uniformed Services ID Card (USID). For both types of cards, you need to be a sponsor or have a sponsor.

To apply for a DoD ID Card, you will need to fill out an Application for Identification Card/DEERS Enrollment (DD Form 1172-2) and turn in your application to a Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification System (RAPIDS) office for processing. Go to DOD Common Access Card Overview website at to learn more about how to apply for a DoD Identification Card.

When you’re enrolled in VA health care, you get a Veteran Health ID Card (VHIC) that you use to check in to your appointments at VA medical centers. You may also use this card to get discounts offered to Veterans. If you have a VHIC, you don’t need to request another type of photo ID to prove you’re a Vet. 

To get a VHIC, you need to be enrolled in VA health care. If you aren’t signed up for VA health care, go to to learn how to apply for VA health care online, by phone, by mail, in person, and with the help of an accredited attorney, a claims agent, or a Veterans Service Officer (VSO). 

A Veteran ID Card (VIC) is a form of photo ID you can use to get discounts offered to Vets at many businesses and restaurants. Go to to find out how to apply for a VIC. When you have this card, you won’t need to carry around your military discharge papers or share sensitive personal information to receive discounts. If you have a VIC, you don’t need to request another type of photo ID to prove you’re a Veteran or to get discounts.

You may be eligible for a VIC if you meet both of the following requirements: Served on active duty, in the Reserves, or in the National Guard (including the Coast Guard) and received an honorable or general discharge (under honorable conditions). 

All 50 states and Puerto Rico offer a Veteran designation printed on state-issued driver’s licenses or IDs. The type of Veteran designation may vary from state to state. If you have a Veteran’s designation, you may be able to get discounts offered to Veterans at many stores, businesses, and restaurants. Most states ask you to provide a copy of your discharge papers (DD214 or other separation documents). Some states may require additional documents.

Please check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) about what you need to apply for a Veteran’s designation for your state. Go to to learn how to apply for a Veteran Designation on your SC Driver’s License or ID Card. The SCDMV offers a “Veteran” designation on beginner’s permits, driver’s licenses, and identification cards, if you served honorably in the US Forces. If you’re interested in adding this designation, you must present one of the military documents listed below:

Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD-214) that must show a characterization of service or discharge status of ‘honorable’ or ‘general under honorable conditions’. If you were discharged before 1950, you must provide a Certificate of Discharge or Enlisted Separation Paper because the DoD Form DD-214 did not exist until January 1, 1950.

National Guard (NG) Report of Separation and Record of Service (NGB Form 22) that must show a service or discharge status of honorable or general under honorable conditions; and at least 20 years of qualifying NG service.

Letter from a Military Reserve component notifying you of your eligibility for retirement pay at age 60 because of your 20 years of service.

Veteran ID Card issued by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. A Veterans Health Identification Card is not acceptable. 

There is no fee to add the “Veteran” designation to your beginner’s permit, driver’s license, or ID card. If you want to add this marking, you must visit an SCDMV branch with one of the military documents listed above. Your county VSO can help you with ID Card requests.

Larry Dandridge is a patient at the RHJ VA Medical Center; an Army ex-Enlisted Infantryman, Ex-Warrant Officer Combat Pilot, and retired Lt. Colonel; a past Veterans Service Officer; a volunteer Patient Adviser at the RHJ VA Medical Center; the Fisher House Charleston volunteer Good Will Ambassador; the volunteer VP for Veteran Affairs for the Coastal Carolina Association of the US Army (AUSA) Chapter; the Author of the award winning BLADES OF THUNDER (Book One); the CEO of TVV Publishing LLC; a past Aerospace Company Regional Manager; the Founder of CLC Hospice LLC; a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt; a Motivational Speaker; a past University Business, Aeronautics, Military Science, and Writing Instructor; and a contributing writer for the Lowcountry Weekly & Island News. You can reach Larry at