Congress

Veterans benefit: bill allowing ID cards signed by Obama

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Republican from Florida, questions witnesses during a special meeting of Florida members of the U.S. House of Representatives to explore veterans’ health care in the state; the meeting was held June 12, 2014. On the left is Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat.
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Republican from Florida, questions witnesses during a special meeting of Florida members of the U.S. House of Representatives to explore veterans’ health care in the state; the meeting was held June 12, 2014. On the left is Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat. McClatchy

President Barack Obama on Monday signed a bill from U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan that will allow veterans nationwide to get a special, government-issued identification card.

Buchanan, a Republican who represents the Bradenton and Sarasota areas of Florida, introduced the “Veterans Identification Card Act of 2015” earlier this year so veterans wouldn’t have to carry around their military service records – such as the common form known as a “DD-214” – to prove their veteran status.

Current records contain sensitive personal information such as veterans’ Social Security numbers, leaving them at a higher risk for identify theft, Buchanan said. And while the Department of Veterans Affairs does offer some veterans – those in the VA health system, for example – ID cards, there is a large population of veterans who served honorably yet have no easy way to prove their military service.

The bill whipped through the House by a vote of 402-0 and the Senate by unanimous consent.

The administration, however, wasn’t thrilled with the measure. In Senate testimony, an administration official said that veterans can get their status noted on ID cards issued by state governments. Beyond that, the introduction of a new card issued by the VA could create confusion, the administration said.

Even so, widespread support in Congress and from some veterans’ groups boosted the bill’s chances. It was signed into law Monday.

“Every veteran – past, present and future – will now be able to prove their military service without the added risk of identity theft,” Buchanan said in a statement. “It’s the least we can do for the brave men and women in uniform who put it all on the line for us.”

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