Armed Forces News

Retired and former officers who served in the commissioned corps of both the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) are not eligible for the new identification card offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Military.com reported.

Both NOAA and USPHS officers hold commissions and have the option of wearing Navy-style uniforms reflecting their rank. Like their military colleagues, they can qualify for retirement benefits after fulfilling time-in-service or other requirements. In time of war or national emergency, the Navy can appropriate their services for military missions.

The issue became apparent when retired NOAA and USPHS officers tried to apply for the new ID cards through VA’s web site. Neither organization was listed in the pull-down menu. The ID cards, which first appeared last November, allow veterans to prove their status as VA beneficiaries. The discrepancy involving former NOAA and USPHS officers is the latest in a series of mishaps that are preventing eligible veterans from procuring the cards, Military.com reported.

At any one time, Congress limits NOAA to roughly 300 commissioned officers. They serve in a variety of jobs, including the staffing of NOAA’s vessels and aircraft, alongside civilian colleagues. The Public Health Service’s commissioned officer corps, roughly 13,000 strong, includes the Dr. (Vice Adm.) Jerome Adams. They serve in federal institutions such as the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.