How to get your Veteran Health Identification Card

The Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC) provides:

• Increased security for your personal information — no personally identifiable information is contained on the magnetic stripe or bar code.

• Unique Member Identifier — The U.S. Department of Defense assigns an electronic data interchange personal identifier that allows The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to retrieve the veteran’s health record.

• A salute to your military service — The emblem of your latest branch of service is displayed on your card. Several special awards will also be listed.

• Accessibility — Braille “VA” helps visually impaired veterans to recognize and use the card.

• Anti-Counterfeiting — Microtext helps prevent reproductions.

The VHIC is issued only to veterans who are enrolled in the VA health care system.

Purpose of the VHIC

The VHIC is for identification and check-in at VA appointments. It cannot be used as a credit card or an insurance card, and it does not authorize or pay for care at non-VA facilities.

How to receive a VHIC

Veterans must be enrolled in the VA health care system to receive a VHIC.

To enroll, effective immediately, veterans who served in a theater of combat operations after Nov. 11, 1998, can complete applications for enrollment in VA health care by telephone without the need for a signed paper application. All other veterans may apply by phone starting July 5, 2016.

You may also apply for enrollment online at, call (877) 222-VETS (8387) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, or in person at your local VA medical facility.

Once your enrollment is verified, you may have your picture taken at your local VA medical center, so that a VHIC can be mailed to you.

When veterans choose to enroll, the VA offers an enhancement to their enrollment experience through “Welcome to VA” (W2VA). W2VA enhances communication by reaching out to newly enrolled veterans through personal phone calls upon enrollment, providing assistance with health care inquiries and assisting with their initial appointment at their preferred VA health care facility. In addition, the VA sends each new enrollee an introductory letter and personalized “Veterans Health Benefits Handbook” in the mail.

In addition to serving as identification for enrolled veterans when they check in for their VA appointment, VHICs are also being used to access U.S. military bases and in some cases, allows access through U.S. airport security.

As a result, the VA wants to assure that VHICs are issued appropriately and to the correct person. To ensure a veteran’s identity, enrollees must provide one form of primary identification and one form of secondary identification when requesting a VHIC.

Acceptable forms of primary and secondary identification are listed below.

Primary identification

Acceptable forms of primary identification include:

• State-issued driver’s license.

• U.S. passport (unexpired).

• Foreign passport with Form I-94 or Form I-94A (unexpired).

• U.S. military card.

• Military ID card.

• Military dependent’s ID card.

• Foreign passport with temporary I-551 stamp.

• Permanent resident card or alien registration receipt card (Form I- 551).

• Federal-, state- or local-issued photo ID.

• Employment authorization document that contains a photograph (Form I-766).

• Passport from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) or the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) with Form I-94 or Form I-94A.

• School ID with photograph.

• VA Identification Card (VIC) or VHIC.*

(*VIC or VHIC is considered a federal-issued photo ID.)

Secondary identification

Acceptable forms of secondary identification include:

• Social Security card.

• Original or certified birth certificate.

• Certificate issued by U.S. Consular Offices documenting the birth of a child on foreign soil to a U.S. citizen (Form FS-545, Form DS-1350, DS Form).

• Certification of report of birth issued by the Department of State (Form DS-1350).

• Voter’s registration card.

• Native American tribal document.

• U.S. citizen ID card (Form I-197).

• Identification card for use of resident citizen in the United States (Form I-179).

• Employment Authorization document issued by the Department of Homeland Security.

• Canadian driver’s license.

What to do if you do not receive your VHIC

Once you have your picture taken, you should receive your VHIC within seven to 10 days. If you have questions about the status of your VHIC, you may call your local VA medical facility where you receive your care or contact us at (877) 222-VETS (8387).

What to do with your old VIC

The VA wants all enrolled veterans to have the VHIC, which is more secure and protects their personal information. If you have the old VIC, you should destroy it by cutting it up or shredding it.

What to do if your VHIC is lost or stolen

If your VHIC is lost or stolen, contact the VA medical facility where your picture was taken to request a new card be reissued, or call (877) 222-VETS (8387). In order to assist you during the call, please be aware that you will need to provide the proper identification.

For further information, please contact the veteran services office.

Services available at Pine Ridge

Pine Ridge Extended Care Center is VA-certified, which means there are services available for our local veterans.

These services have eligibility requirements and specific programs. For more information, please contact the veteran services office or Pine Ridge.

For more information

The office of the Archuleta County veterans service officer provides assistance to qualified military veterans, and their families, or a veteran’s survivors, in applying to and in obtaining VA program assistance, benefits and claims.

This assistance is provided within the guidelines, policies and procedures established by the Colorado Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. This is a mandated program of the state of Colorado.

For further information on VA benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Pagosa Springs Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.

The best way to contact me is to set up an appointment, for either at your home or in the office, so I can schedule a specific time in order to answer and assist each veteran in Archuleta County.

The office number is 264-4013, fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590 and email is The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Bring a DD Form 214 (discharge) for applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to enroll, and for filing in the Archuleta County VSO office.

Always leave me a message and phone number to contact you.

Veterans’ groups

The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

• American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

• American Legion Post 108 Ladies Auxiliary: second Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

• Veterans for Veterans: Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church.

• Combat Veterans PTSD Group: Every other Tuesday at noon, Community United Methodist Church, 434 Lewis St. Contact Kevin Kelly at (505) 699-0824.

• Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: First and third Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., Dr. Sharon Carter’s office. Contact Charlotte at 903-9690.

Important numbers

• 799-VETS,

• Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.

• Farmington VA Center: (505) 326-4383.

• VAMC Albuquerque, N.M.: (800) 465-8262.

• VAMC Albuquerque, N.M., emergency notification: (800) 465-8262, ext. 5739.

• The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7/365. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online or text 838255.

This story was posted on May 25, 2017.