Retired Guard Soldier first to apply for Va. Vet ID under new law

Retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 John D. Velleca applies for the Virginia Veterans Identification Card July 1, 2015, during a ceremony held by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, Virginia National Guard and Virginia Department of Veterans Services at the Guard's Army Aviation Support Facility in Sandston, Va.  (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 John D. Velleca applies for the Virginia Veterans Identification Card July 1, 2015, during a ceremony held by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, Virginia National Guard and Virginia Department of Veterans Services at the Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility in Sandston, Va. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — A new Virginia law took effect July 1 making Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen eligible for the Virginia Veterans Identification Card, and retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 John D. Velleca was the first Virginia Guard veteran to apply for the card under the expanded eligibility July 1, 2015, in Sandston, Va. Attendees at the joint ceremony held by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, Virginia National Guard and Virginia Department of Veterans Services included Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, DMV Commissioner Rick Holcomb, DVS Commissioner John Newby, Virginia Senator Bryce Reeves, Delegate Riley Ingram and retired Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., former Adjutant General of Virginia. Reeves and Ingram also applied for the Veterans ID Card.

“Today is another example of the great teamwork we enjoy in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Williams said. “We greatly appreciate the support of the DMV and DVS and their efforts to recognize the service of all the armed forces with the Virginia Veterans ID Card. What we are doing here today is an important step in recognizing the service of Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen for their service here in the commonwealth. When the Veterans ID Card was first established, it strictly followed the U.S. Code definition of a ‘veteran’ that required federal active duty service. This meant that Soldiers and Airmen who served honorably here in Virginia and may have served on state active duty for snowstorms, hurricane, floods or other natural disasters would not be eligible for this recognition.”

A DMV 2 Go mobile customer service center was on site at the Virginia National Guard Army Aviation Support Facility to process the applications and remained to perform other transactions. Applicants will receive their Veterans ID Card in the mail from the DMV’s secure card issuance facility in about five days.

“The Virginia veterans ID card is just one way to honor you and all of the men and women who served our nation,” Holcomb said. “Carrying this card enables you to easily prove your veteran status, and it also provides for well-deserved discounts at many retailers and restaurants throughout Virginia. I’d like to thank Governor McAuliffe and the General Assembly for passing this legislation to allow us to extend eligibility for the Virginia veterans ID to National Guard. To the men and women in uniform and veterans here today, I’d like to personally thank you for your service.”

Virginia Senate Bill 931, sponsored by Senator Lynwood W. Lewis, Jr., changed the definition of “veteran” for purposes of determining eligibility for the Virginia Veterans ID Card to include the Virginia National Guard. The card is available from the Department of Motor Vehicles in partnership with the Department of Veterans Services and is accepted by retailers and other business establishments that provide discounts to military veterans. The card is not used to determine eligibility for federal veterans benefits.

Under the expanded eligibility, Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen who served honorably for more than 180 days may now apply for the card. Many Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen have responded to snowstorms, hurricanes and other natural disasters but never served on federal active duty and would not have qualified for the card before this expanded eligibility.

Velleca, a veteran of more than 43 years of National Guard service, enlisted in the New York National Guard in October 1961, transferred to the Virginia National Guard in 1961 and rose to the rank of sergeant major. He became a warrant officer in 1975 and retired in December 1994 was a chief warrant officer four.

About the Virginia National Guard, DMV 2 Go and the Department of Veterans Services:

The Virginia National Guard is a unique dual-status federal and state military force that provides an operational reserve to fight our nation’s wars and a response force that answers the call of the Governor to defend the commonwealth. The Guard also builds partnerships to maximize resources and ensure its ability to rapidly respond as an effective member of a joint, multi-agency team when needed. It is a community-based military force with readiness centers and training, aviation and maintenance facilities in more than 40 communities that crisscross the commonwealth from Winchester to Abingdon, Staunton to Virginia Beach, Manassas to Emporia and Danville to Warrenton.

Since September 11, 2001, more than 15,000 Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen have mobilized on federal active duty for homeland security missions and combat operations, sustainment support and peacekeeping in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and other locations around the world, and more than 7,300 personnel have been called for duty to support domestic emergency operations as part of a coordinated state-wide response. For more information visit http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/.

DMV 2 Go is a fleet of mobile customer service centers ready to bring DMV services to Virginians at convenient locations like businesses, university and college campuses, assisted living facilities and retirement communities, military bases, government centers and DMV Select locations. The full service office-on-wheels is equipped to process all DMV transactions including applying for or renewing ID card for adults and children, applying or renewing a driver’s license to include taking road and knowledge tests, getting a picture taken, getting a copy of your driving record, obtaining vehicle titles, license plates, decals and transcripts or ordering disabled parking placards or plates. For a full list of DMV 2 Go services visit http://www.dmv.state.va.us/general/#dmv_2go.asp.

The Virginia Department of Veterans Services connects Virginia’s veterans and their families to federal and state benefits, support, quality care, and recognition they have earned through service and sacrifice. DVS is organized into six service delivery sections – benefits; education, training, and employment; care centers; cemeteries; the Virginia War Memorial, and the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program. Four citizen boards work closely with the agency to support the effective delivery of services to Virginia’s veterans – the Board of Veterans Services, the Joint Leadership Council of Veterans Service Organizations, the Virginia War Memorial Board, and the Veterans Services Foundation. For more information visit http://www.dvs.virginia.gov/.

For more information about the card visit http://go.usa.gov/3wbxV.

View and download high resolution photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157654906627540

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