Thousands more veterans will receive HM Armed Forces Veteran Cards by the end of the year thanks to a £3 million injection to expand the roll-out to veterans who left service before 2018.
In a significant development, Veterans’ Minister Johnny Mercer recently visited an MOD printing facility at HMS Sultan in Gosport. The UK government has allocated £3 million to boost the production of HM Armed Forces Veteran Cards, aiming to issue an impressive 50,000 cards per month. This initiative is set to benefit thousands of veterans, including those who left service before 2018.
The HM Armed Forces Veteran Card serves as a valuable tool for veterans, allowing them to swiftly and conveniently verify their veteran status. This, in turn, facilitates easier access to vital support from the NHS, charitable organizations, and local authorities. Furthermore, these cards open doors to other benefits, such as applying for Defence Discount Service Cards and the Veterans Railcard.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Rt Hon. Johnny Mercer MP, emphasised the importance of these cards, stating that they provide veterans with a tangible connection to their significant contributions to national defence. He further assured that the government is committed to ensuring that veterans can access these ID cards by the end of the year, enhancing their ability to access essential support services.
Since December 2018, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has been automatically issuing veterans’ cards to service leavers as part of their service leavers pack. Later this year, the service will expand to include veterans who left service before 2018, making it accessible to a broader range of veterans. As of July 2023, 71,000 veterans’ cards have already been issued to those who left service after 2018, and production is set to increase to an impressive 50,000 cards per month for those who left before that year.
The Chair of Cobseo, the Confederation of Service Charities, Lt Gen Sir Nicholas Pope, highlighted the significance of these ID cards in expediting support for veterans, both from the government and charitable sectors. He expressed optimism about the positive impact these cards will have on the entire veteran community.
The government’s commitment to veterans extends beyond physical cards. In the Veterans’ Strategy Action Plan (2022-2024), there is a commitment to exploring secure digital verification of veterans’ status, which will broaden veterans’ access to government services and expedite Phase 2 of the ID card rollout.
Given that there are approximately 2.2 million veterans in the UK, the government has invested £3 million in developing the necessary technology and processes to handle a large volume of card applications accurately and securely. This includes rigorous testing of the online application process involving 4,000 veterans to refine the system. The official launch date for this service will be announced by the end of the year, with a paper-based application process also available for veterans who cannot use the online service.