Congress passed legislation for a new veterans ID card last summer, but it will likely be another year before any are issued.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has begun drafting regulations for production and issuing of the ID cards, designed to give veterans easy proof of their military service for non-federal activities.
Legislation authorizing the cards, sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., passed through Congress without objection last July. He argued that veterans needed the option for a veterans ID to help individuals who have to carry around copies of their discharge paperwork to get discounts or services at a host of private businesses.
Veterans requesting the IDs would have to pay a small, yet-to-be-determined fee, to cover production costs.
But Veterans Affairs officials said it will likely still be months before anyone gets the new cards. The rule-making process is expected to take at least another year, with production and issuing times still to be decided.
"This is a lengthy process that requires time for a public comment period as well as approval from the Office of Management and Budget," officials said in a statement this week. "VA currently estimates the program will be implemented in 2017."
That’s a disappointment for veterans who had hoped to ditch their DD-214s for the next trip to the hardware store, or for local restaurant deals. Advocates have complained that practice is both inconvenient and unsafe, given the personal information included on official military documents.
No veterans will be required to get the IDs, and the cards will not replace medical IDs or official defense retiree cards. Supporters called it a simple way to honor veterans' service.
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.