WESTFIELD — The city’s Veterans Services office is issuing Veteran and Service Member Identification Cards and they want to get the word out, according to Director Julie Barnes. The program promotes deals and discounts at participating businesses for veterans who show the specially issued ID card.
Barnes got the idea from the communities of Wilbraham and Palmer, which also implemented the program. She had just started to sign up veterans and businesses to participate in the fall of 2019 when the COVID-19 restrictions hit and the Senior Center and veterans offices shut down.
“Veterans, especially older veterans, are having a very difficult time obtaining some kind of ID saying they served in the military,” Barnes said when she started the program. She said there are ways of getting ID’s online, or traveling to the VA Medical Center to apply, but both create a hardship, especially for some older folks.
Barnes said the ID card is also for people who served less than 20 years in the National Guard or Reserves, who are not eligible for veterans benefits and thus would not qualify for a federal veterans ID card, even though they are considered veterans. Barnes said she will verify the service records before issuing any Westfield ID cards.
The Westfield ID will not be an official Veterans Affairs card, and will only be good in Westfield. Barnes said to date, 153 people signed up and have an ID card, 13 of them signing up since the Senior Center reopened.
Barnes is also seeking more businesses to add to the more than two dozen participating local businesses that offer discounts on beverages, meals, gift items and other merchandise to veterans who show their IDs. Other discounted services include haircuts and styling, and discounts on home closings and lenders.
What said each participating business is free to define its own discount, such as a free cup of coffee on Fridays, free appetizers on Mondays, 10 percent off their services or merchandise, etc.
She also said if there are businesses that already offer discounts to veterans but are not in the program, she would be happy to add them to her department’s “Proud to Support Westfield Veterans” business list, which is distributed to all card holders when they receive their card, and is featured on the Westfield Veterans Services webpage.
Any business that would like to participate may sign up at the Veterans Services office in the Senior Center at 45 Noble St., Westfield, or by emailing [email protected] for more information. Barnes said they will also provide participating businesses with a window decal to identify them as a proud supporter of local veterans.
All prior-service military members with an honorable discharge are eligible for this card. Applications are available at the Westfield Veterans Services office, or at the Veterans Services page at www.cityofwestfield.org. Anyone with questions should call the office at 413-572-6247.