— By JIM VINES
The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced the phased roll out of newly designed, more secure Veteran Health Identification Cards. The new cards are distinguished by additional security features and will have a different look and feel.
In addition to being more secure, the VHIC displays the veteran’s member ID, a new unique identifier and a Plan ID, reflecting the veteran’s enrollment in VA health care. The VHIC is personalized to display the emblem of the veteran’s branch of service, as well as providing features that make it easier to use, such as the addition of “VA” in Braille to help visually impaired veterans, and the printing of VA phone numbers and emergency care instructions on the cards.
The card replaces the Veteran Identification Card, which was introduced in 2004. As part of a phased roll out, starting this month, the card will only be offered to newly enrolled and other veterans who have not been issued a VIC. In early April, the VA will begin a three-month effort to automatically issue the more secure VHIC to current VIC cardholders. The VA recommends veterans safeguard their VIC as they would a credit card, and cut up or shred the card once it is replaced. Don’t leave the old card in a drawer. While not required to receive VA health care, all enrolled veterans are encouraged to get a VHIC.
Enrolled veterans can get more information about the VHIC by visiting their VA medical facility enrollment coordinator or the website www.va.gov/healthbenefits/vhic or calling 1-877-222-8387. Veterans not enrolled can apply for enrollment at any time by visiting, www.va.gov/healthbenefits/enroll or calling 1-877-222-8387.
New national cemeteries
VA has announced the names of two new VA national cemeteries planned for Florida. The Cape Canaveral National Cemetery in Scottsmoor and the Tallahassee National Cemetery in Tallahassee.
The Cape Canaveral National Cemetery is planned for a 318-acre parcel located in close proximity to U.S. Route 1 in Northern Brevard County, in Scottsmoor, approximately two miles from Interstate 95 and 12 miles north of Titusville. The cemetery will serve more than 163,000 veterans, spouses and their eligible dependents living in the central eastern Florida area. The initial phase of construction will provide more than 17,000 gravesites. VA purchased the central eastern Florida property, formerly known as Acosta Groves, for $2.1 million on July 31, 2012.
The Tallahassee National Cemetery is planned for a 250-acre parcel in Leon County, with frontage along U.S. Highway 27 (Apalachee Parkway) and Old St. Augustine Road near March Road east of Tallahassee. The cemetery will serve 83,000 veterans and their eligible dependents in the Tallahassee area, as well as southwestern Georgia and southeastern Alabama. The initial phase of construction will provide more than 6,000 gravesites and an early turnover area that the cemetery can begin burial operations soon after construction begins. VA purchased the Tallahassee property for $6.8 million on August 14, 2012, from the St. Joe Company.
More information can be found at www.cem.va.gov or by calling 1-800-827-1000.
Speak to you again next week.
Jim Vines is commander of AmVets Post 133.