For Immediate Release
Belmont, CA – San Mateo County wants to raise awareness of the benefits and discounts available for veterans, and simplify access to them. In issuing a standardized identification card, the Human Services Agency hopes to meet and assist the 33,000 veterans and their families residing in San Mateo County.
Once issued, veterans can present their ID cards to local businesses for a veterans’ discount. The card states that government documentation was used to verify veteran status. If a veteran is questioned when presenting their ID, the back of the card includes contact information to verify with the Veterans Services Office (VSO).
The VSO also provides assistance in submitting claims to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, provides follow-up services on claims, and can refer eligible veterans to benefits such as health coverage, disability compensation and pensions, education and training, employment assistance, and housing and home loans. Spouses and families can also benefit from services like dependency compensation and burial assistance. In the first 6 months of 2015, the Office assisted veterans in submitting 380 claims to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and in veterans receiving over $2.1M in retroactive lump sum awards and over $140,000 in ongoing monthly benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Through the ID Card program, the County is also hoping to catch the attention of veterans who have never been to the Veterans Services Office, and offer assistance with the plethora of services and benefits that they may be unknowingly eligible for.
“The VSO developed the county ID Card to highlight some benefits that may surprise our veterans, provided by local businesses and national retailers, and by the County. Most government agencies accept a DD214 as proof of veteran status, but it’s oversized, too important to always carry around and it doesn’t provide photo identification,” stated Human Services Agency Director Iliana Rodriguez. “Veterans account for 6% of the County’s total population, of which 75% are age 55 or older. 12% of the County’s homeless are veterans. The cost of living in SMC is at an all-time high. Who couldn’t use a store discount or a complementary cup of coffee?”
“This is one of several ways that we are reaching out and developing programs that meet veterans where they are. From the 2014 Veterans Needs Assessment, to the creation of a Veterans Commission approved by the Board yesterday, the Veterans ID Card program is just one more of a sequence of steps that together we will take to improve the lives of San Mateo County veterans. Our Veterans Services Office, established in 1946, will continue to serve our valued servicemen and women in these, and new, ways as we evolve our offerings for veterans and their families”, stated District 4 Supervisor, and Vietnam Veteran, Warren Slocum.
County Veterans ID Cards will be issued at no cost to honorably discharged veterans. The CVSO office is on 400 Harbor Blvd., Building B in Belmont. Appointments are advised, and can be made by calling 650-802-6598
Additional information on the County’s Veterans services is available at https://smcgov.org/hsa/veterans