Military veterans are entitled to certain benefits from the federal government. One benefit is low-cost or free VA health care for eligible active duty or retired service members. However, you must apply for this benefit. Once approved, you will be issued a Veteran's Health Identification Card, which will be used to verify your identity when you check in for your VA medical appointments.
The VHIC is issued automatically to those that enroll in the federal VA healthcare program. To be eligible for these benefits, you must be an active or former member of the armed services and have served at least 24 continuous months or the full period for which you were called for active duty. This may be waived if you served prior to 1980 or were discharged due to a disability sustained while serving. If you are retired, your discharge must not have been dishonorable. Reserves or National Guard members that were active only for training purposes do not meet these eligibility requirements.
If you are eligible for VA benefits, you may apply online or in person at your local VA medical facility. The document you will need to complete is Form 10-10EZ. This form is only a few pages long and asks you to supply basic information about yourself and your service history. You must also include information about your income, expenses and dependents, such as your spouse. This information will help the department determine your copay. Once complete, you will need to sign and date the form.
Once your enrollment in the program is approved, you will need to go to your local VA medical facility to have your picture taken. You will be required to provide a primary form of identification or two secondary forms of identification. The department accepts driver licenses, state IDs and passports as primary identification. Certified copies of marriage licenses, Social Security cards and birth certificates are acceptable forms of secondary identification.
Once you have completed all of the steps to obtain a VHIC, the department will mail you the card. This typically takes between 7 and 10 days. However, sometimes the process can take longer, particularly if some of your paperwork turns out to be incomplete or the department has additional questions for you. If you do not receive your card after 10 days, contact your local VA facility to get an update on its status.
Wayne Thomas earned his J.D. from Penn State University and has been practicing law since 2008. He has experience writing about environmental topics, music and health, as well as legal issues. Since 2011, Thomas has also served as a contributing editor for the "Vermont Environmental Monitor."