How to Get a U.S. Military ID Card

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A military ID card or dependent ID is a valuable card which can unlock a variety of valuable benefits, such as health care through TRICARE, education benefits, and access base facilities, including the commissary, base exchange, rec centers and other support agencies.

Unfortunately, getting a military ID card isn’t always as easy as waltzing onto your local military installation and requesting one. In fact, only certain individuals are eligible to receive a military ID card or dependent ID card. You are usually eligible to receive a military ID if you are a military retiree or are currently in the military (active duty, Guard, Reserve, or Inactive Ready Reserve). Certain dependents are eligible for dependent ID cards as well (see below).

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What about a veteran ID card? One of the most common questions we receive comes from veterans who are looking to get a veteran ID card which proves their military service. There are many reasons why proof of military service can come in handy – including securing veterans benefits, proof of service for military discounts, or just to show off your military pride. However, if you served in the military and have since separated from, but didn’t retire from the military, you may not be eligible for a military ID card.

In this article we will cover information about some of the forms of military ID that are available, who is eligible to receive one, and alternative forms of identification to prove military service if you are a military veteran who is not eligible for a military ID card.

Military ID Card Eligibility

In general, you must be in the DEERS system to receive a new military ID card. This includes the service member (sponsor) and eligible dependents (who must be entered into DEERS by the sponsor). Here are some general rules regarding military ID card eligibility. Check with your local issuing base personnel office more more specific information.

  • Active Duty ID card. You must be on Active Duty military status and be in the DEERS system.
  • Guard/Reserve Military ID Card. You must be in the Guard or Reserves, which may include the Inactive Ready Reserves (IRR).
  • Retiree Military ID Card. You must qualify as a military retiree, which generally means 20 years of active military service, or 20 years in the Guard or Reserves (though age limits may change eligibility requirements for Guard/Reserve retirees). Medically retired servicemembers may also be eligible.
  • Former Military / No longer serving, not retired. There are a few exceptions given to certain veterans who meet the following qualifications: Medal of Honor recipients, 100% disabled veterans, Former members in receipt of retired pay, Transitional Health Care Member (TAMP), and some others. They will receive DD Form 2765.
  • Military Dependent ID Card. These may include, but are not limited to: Lawful spouse, un-remarried surviving spouse, unmarried children (including adopted or stepchildren) who are: under 21 years of age, over 21 but incapable of self-support (documentation is required), over 21 but under 23 who are attending an approved learning institution as a full time student (documentation is required). There are additional eligibility rules for former spouses, dependent parents/in-laws, and certain other cases. Contact your card issuing service for additional information.
  • Veteran ID Card. This is where it gets a little tricky. There is no official DoD issued military veteran ID card. However, the VA medical system may issue ID cards for veterans who are in their system for service connected disability benefits and certain other situations. (see below).

More types of Uniformed Services ID Cards.

How to Get a Replacement Military Dependent ID Card

In addition to being in the DEERS system, you will need at least 2 forms of ID. For more information about where to go, contact your local base personnel office, or visit the Rapids Site Locator (RSL) for ID card requirements and to locate the nearest ID Card Facility/RAPIDS Station based on City, Zip, State or Country.

Veterans ID Cards


department of veterans affairs id cardAs we mentioned above, not all veterans are eligible for a military ID card. But there may be ways you can still prove your military service. Some states, including Virginia, issue state issued veterans ID cards. Some other states may include an endorsement on their state issued driver’s licenses or ID cards. If this is the case, you should be able to get an ID card through your state (note: not all states offer these cards at this time).

The VA also issues a Veterans Identification Card (VIC), which is a photo ID for veterans who are eligible for VA health care. (note: you do not have to have a service-connected disability rating to be eligible for VA health care benefits). The VIC is a photo ID and you will need to qualify in order to be eligible this ID card. Here is more about how to get a Veterans Identification Card from the VA, and VA health care eligibility.

If you do not have access to the above veterans ID card options, you may still be able to prove your military service in other ways.

Your DD 214 Will Prove Military Service

The easiest way to prove your military service without one of the above ID cards is with a DD Form 214, which is the document which serves as your service record. This is issued to all military members when the separate from military service (the military used to issue a wallet sized DD Form 214, but so far as I know, this is no longer the case).

Unfortunately, carrying around a letter size document is inconvenient. One tip we have received from many veterans is to take your DD Form 214 to an office supply store such as Office Depot, Office Max, Fed-Ex/Kinkos, etc. and ask them to shrink the card to a wallet size version and have it laminated. This will give you a wallet sized document that will prove your service.

Note: Your DD Form 214 is one of the most important documents you will receive, so keep good care of it! Here are more details on the DD Form 214, including how to get a new DD 214.

How You Can Get an ID Card to Prove Military Service

Unfortunately a DD Form 214 isn’t a photo ID, it is simply a document. If you are looking for a photo ID or other wallet sized ID to prove your military service, then these may be good options for you:

  • Department of Veterans Affairs ID Card. This ID card is issued to military veterans who are eligible to receive medical care from the VA. Contact your local VA medical center for more information about your eligibility.
  • State Driver’s License. Some state driver’s licenses display a logo or code that denotes military service. Call your state Department of Motor Vehicles, or licensing branch for more information. You will likely need to bring your DD Form 214 to prove your military service. See a full list of states which offer a veterans designation on drivers licenses or state issued ID cards.
  • State or County Veterans ID Card program. Some counties or other communities issue veteran ID cards. These aren’t “official US or state government IDs,” but they may be valuable in the local community, as many restaurants and retailers will extend discounts as a thanks for your service. These cards may also be good for local or county benefits programs, but these vary by locale.
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Card. Check with your local VFW for eligibility requirements.
  • American Legion membership card. Check with your local American Legion for eligibility requirements.
  • Other service organization ID card. Check with your local military organization for eligibility requirements.