- The new Veteran’s Service Card will be available this coming summer to anyone who served in the Canadian Forces and was released before 2016.
Unlike the old NDI 75 photo ID card issued years ago to Members who left the CF with at least 10 years of service, the new requirements are very much easier.
Completed basic training and were honourably discharged from the CF? You qualify for the new Veteran Service Card! (So almost 99% of us should qualify for this new photo VSC card! – Example: I recently met a now 69 year-old man, who was a recruit in the 6-week summer Student Militia Program I helped to run in 1967. He passed basic training, but quit the Militia by the end of 1967. Legally, he is a Veteran and qualifies for the Card!)
Google “Veteran Service Card” and presently the latest info is of April 2019. You can also call Veterans’ Affairs Canada at 1-866-522-2122.
At present it has not yet updated to Vets with service before 2016, but it is the same 2-page printable application form that is available on line. Veterans with pre-2016 service cessation can apply as of the summer of 2019 on.
Fill it in, add a passport quality photo, plus a photocopy of a government issued ID, like a driver’s licence. Send it in……and “hurry up and wait.” The Veteran Service Card should eventually arrive in the mail.
The Veteran’s Service Card is valuable for several reasons in establishing that you have served in the CF. There are many discounts and more hidden perks:
- These include 25% off any VIA Rail fares, 3 or 4 pieces of luggage checked for free on Air Canada and West Jet and numerous 10 to 20% discounts at hotels, restaurants, car rentals etc.
- Incidentally, VIA Rail is currently running a special 40% off (instead of 25% off) this summer (till Sept. 2019) for CF personnel, Veterans and accompanying family on the 4-day sleeping car trips between Toronto and Vancouver. If booking, make sure you join the free affinity program called “Via Preference”.
- But beyond these nice benefits of convenience and “frippery”, there are some very important and serious benefits, as we all get older. Imagine that at some (hopefully) ripe old age it is decided you need to go to a proper government licensed Nursing Home, where waiting lists are typically from 5 to 13 months in the GTA and Southern Ontario. – A little known fact is that many nursing homes have a number of beds (sometimes 3% to 5%) reserved for Veterans. (True, but not advertised. But ask!)
- If there are no Veteran applicants when a bed opens up, it goes to another applicant. With a Veterans Service Card in your wallet your loved ones can immediately establish your Veteran’s right to such a reserved bed. The Nursing Home will usually wait no longer than 24 to 48 hours, before deciding who gets the newly available bed. That is usually not enough time to hunt up your by then decades old paper records of military service. So apply for your Veteran Service Card in 2019, and let loved ones know what it can do for you, and where you keep it. Better yet have your loved ones make a photo copy or two, so proof will be handy when it is eventually needed, hopefully, many years in the future.
- The Veteran’s Service Card will also ensure your loved ones (or decision makers) will have access to greatly discounted funeral cremation lots in sections reserved for Veterans, when that time eventually comes. Most cemeteries have that option. (When I helped to bury my 84 year-old friend Bernie here in Kitchener in July 2018, his meagre estate saved almost 50%, because we had proof he had served in the Militia for 2 years in the early 1960’s.)
- Lastly, for deceased Veterans with very little or no money, there is the Last Post Fund administered by Veterans’ Affairs Canada. This Fund pays for a simple but decent funeral for a Veteran with little or no money. And family or friends can claim for funeral expenses that they had paid, for up to a year after the Veteran’s death. For further information on the Last Post Fund call 1-800-465-7113. See the website link below
If you have any questions, Please reach out to the Veterans Concerns Committee (VCC) Chair – Alan Nanders – [email protected]