Vet Cards and Discount Programs
We have had several queries about “Vet Cards” in relation to discount programs offered by various businesses in the Lehigh Valley. Currently no such thing as an official “Vet Card” exists locally. Also, misunderstandings of the policies of various businesses which offer discounts abound.
Last year there was some discussion at state level of imprinting “veteran” or something similar on state driver’s licenses. Nothing has yet come of it thus far. In western New York something called the “Return the F.A.V.O.R.” discount program has taken hold. The acronym stands for “Finding and Assisting Veterans of Record.” The origins of it are unknown, and it should not be confused with the VFW’s “Return the Favor” program which is more altruistic.
This particular program involves county governments enlisting businesses to provide discounts to veterans and in so doing also provides veterans with a photo identification card to present to the sales clerk. Recently, Luzerne County in Pennsylvania has decided to adopt the program. It is not a statewide initiative and there is no requirement to have one.
Some website companies offer to convert a DD Form 214 together with a photo into a “vet card.” These have no official standing.
Businesses have added to the confusion by loosely using the term “veteran” in advertising. Some local store managers seemingly vary their policies or are unclear in explaining them. Bungled explanations drift back to other veterans. Not a few businesses fail to appreciate that not all veterans are entitled to a military or VA identification card, and not all in the military necessarily become “veterans” in the Department of Veterans Affairs sense of the word (the official designator).
In other instances, veterans themselves fail to appreciate distinctions are drawn among them by businesses and it is up to businesses to decide upon the identification required.
We get asked questions most often on vet cards for and the store policies of Home Depot and Lowes. They provide an illustration of the issue. In this instance, the store policies are clear but the interpretation and means of identification have not been:
- The Home Depot offers a year-round, 10 percent discount, up to a $500 maximum, to all active duty military personnel, reservists, retired or disabled veterans and their immediate families. We offer this discount to thank them for their outstanding service to this nation and to help make their homes more comfortable and safe. Customers requesting the discount should present a valid military ID. This discount is not available for our online shoppers or in addition to existing discounts or promotions. In addition, a 10 percent discount is also offered in recognition of Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day and Veterans Day at all U.S. Home Depot stores for all other military veterans.
- Lowe’s Companies, Inc. announced today it will expand its support of the military by offering an all day, every day 10 percent discount to all military personnel who are active, reserve, retired or disabled veterans and their family members, with a valid, government-issued military ID card. All other military veterans will receive the discount on the Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Veterans Day weekends. The discount is available on in-stock and Special Order purchases up to $5,000. Excluded from the discount are sales via Lowes.com, previous sales, and purchases of services or gift cards.
We have read on Military.Com and elsewhere, Home Depot allows additional means of identification in addition to a “government- issued” military ID card. It has stated it will accept the following forms of identification:
- Common Access Card (CAC)
- Uniformed Services ID Card (Green, Blue, Tan, and Red)
- Veteran’s Identification Card (VIC) which must state “Service Connected” for the everyday discount)
The choice of the CAC has presented has led to comments from some, for it is also issued to Department of Defense civilians and contractors and most of these have never served in the military. It is a relatively new Department of Defense means of identification. Errors have occurred in reading them when applying store policy, but that is not our concern.
The Uniformed Services Card is the military ID card most mentioned. It is issued by Department of Defense to those in the service (active or reserve), military retirees, military medical retirees, those veterans with an 100% service connected disability rating from the VA, and their dependents.
The VIC card is probably better known as the “VA Card” in the veterans community. All veterans are eligible for one if enrolled in the VA’s healthcare system. Having a VIC card is not enough. The words “service connected” must appear under the picture.
To conclude, it is up to a business to determine what discounts it offers, who receives them, and how a “veteran” will be identified. Like the Home Depot and Lowes, most continuous offers probably are oriented on military members, retired and medical retired military members, disabled veterans, and their families. These can be officially and easily verified without a “vet card.”
For the rest of the veterans community, it may be a crap shoot when a discount applies and how to identify oneself properly. Using Lowes and Home Depots as examples, the “other veterans” are limited to three or four principal holidays. On those days the means of verification by a business is anyone’s guess – a veterans organization membership card, a DD Form 214, a ball cap. You’ll have to inquire for yourself beforehand. Don’t forget many veterans service organizations have business discount programs. In those instances, the membership card serves as the means of identification.
2. http://www.veteranprograms.com/id1510.html and http://paycheck-chronicles.military.com/2011/05/05/home-depot-still-giving-the-military-discount-year-round-and-the-veterans-discount-4-weekends-a-year/
 Understanding the color of military ID cards:
Tan – Dependent of active duty member or retiree.
Red – Retired Reservist not yet age 60 (Gray Area) and Dependent of Reserve Components.
Blue – Retiree (or other honorably discharged Veteran with benefits).
Green– Active Duty and Reservist
As of 13 August 2011