VA Veteran Health ID Card (VHIC)

Updated: November 4, 2022

Veterans are offered several identification cards, such as a Department of Defense ID, a Veteran ID card or the Veteran Health ID card (VHIC).

Military retirees get access to base privileges (BX, commissary, health clinics, etc.) with the DoD card., Some may choose to get Veteran designation printed on their state-issued IDs. A Veteran ID card shows proof of military service for businesses that provide discounts. Common Access Cards or similar access control badges are necessary for those who have retired or separated but still remain in federal employment.

The Veteran Health ID Card (VHIC) is vital for those enrolled in Veterans Affairs health care. — it is used for check-ins for appointments at a VA medical facility.

The VHIC may also serve as a form of Veteran ID to claim veteran-specific benefits at local businesses or big-box retail chains such as Target or Walmart.

How to Get a Veteran Health ID Card

Veterans cannot be issued a VHIC without first enrolling in the VA health care system. You can sign up online at the VA official site. Only those enrolled in the VA health care system are eligible for the VHIC.

Electronic applications for VA health care benefits are available online and can be sent by mail, or you can sign up at a VA medical facility. You can also call 1-877-222-VETS (8387) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Eastern time. Your enrollment verification is required before you may have a picture taken for the VHIC (this will happen at your local VA medical center). Once your photo is taken, your health ID card will be processed and sent to you via U.S. mail.

You will need to provide certain documentation when signing up for the VA health care system, including but not limited to military discharge papers, your most recent tax returns, Social Security cards and/or numbers, and account numbers for any existing health insurance, whether from your employer, Medicare or private insurance plans.

Valid ID Required

When signing up for the VHIC, Veterans are required to provide one form of approved, current ID, which may be one of the following:

  • Primary identification (unexpired)
  • State-issued driver’s license
  • United States passport or passport card
  • Other unexpired government ID

Identification cards issued by federal, state or local government agencies are permitted as long as the ID contains a photograph, full name, date of birth, and address. You may be required to provide further documentation of your current address if your ID card has an outdated address or no address listed.

The VA has a list of “acceptable address documents” that can include but may not be limited to:

  • Electric bill
  • Cable bill
    • Voter registration card

Who Is Eligible for VA Health Care and the VHIC?

Those who serve as active-duty military members who retire or separate and do not have a discharge characterized as dishonorable are eligible for the VHIC. You may also qualify as a current or former National Guard or Reserve member called to active duty by a federal order.

The requirements include having served the full period ordered to active duty. Those activated only for training purposes do not qualify.

Other Rules for Qualifying for VA Health Care and a Veteran Health ID Card

Those who enlisted after Sept. 7, 1980, or entered active duty after Oct. 16, 1981, are required to have served “24 continuous months or the full period for which you were called to active duty,” unless any of the following apply:

  • The service member was discharged for a disability caused or aggravated by active-duty service.
  • The service member was given an early out or hardship discharge.
  • The service member was on duty before Sept. 7, 1980.

Military members with punitive discharges such as bad conduct, other than honorable, or dishonorable discharges may be eligible for VA health care and the Veteran Health ID Card if they successfully navigate the discharge review process and have a Discharge Review Board upgrade the nature of the discharge to a nonpunitive one.

If you must sign up for VA health care using a power of attorney (POA), the VA advises that, for best results, you include a copy of the POA along with your application documents.

How the Veteran Health ID Card Works

In understanding how the VHIC works, it’s first important to consider what the VHIC is NOT. It is not an insurance card; it cannot be used to pay for health care services and does not function as an insurance ID card. It also does NOT authorize care at non-VA or out-of-network facilities.

These are very important distinctions to make, especially when time is of the essence and the right ID is needed to obtain medical services and determine who pays for them.

The Veteran Health ID Card includes the following features listed on the Department of Veterans Affairs official site. These features may be subject to change depending on mission needs, federal legislation, changes in VA policy, etc.

  • Privacy protection. “No personally identifiable information is contained on the magnetic stripe or barcode” of your VHIC, according to the VA.
  • A DoD-created “personal identifier” code that helps the VA access your health records at the VA facility where you are being treated.
  • Accessibility for the visually impaired: The card features Braille that can help users quickly locate and use the VHIC.
  • Anti-counterfeiting measures are built in to further secure your card.

Only those enrolled in VA health care will receive these cards at the time of this writing.

Written by Team