In an open letter to veterans, VA Secretary Bob McDonald announced the beginning of a phased implementation of the Veterans Choice Flag with StethoscopeProgram.

This program, which is part of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 signed by President Obama on August 7, was passed in response to delays veterans faced in receiving VA healthcare. Under the Choice Program, veterans who live farther than 40 miles from a VA facility or who have to wait over 30 days for an appointment will have the opportunity to receive healthcare in the community from non-VA providers. This program is only a temporary benefit designed to meet the immediate need to reduce wait times for VA provided healthcare.

As part of the program, all veterans enrolled in VA’s healthcare system will receive a Veterans Choice Card. The first set of veterans to receive their cards will be those who live over 40 miles from any VA healthcare facility. Those cards have already been mailed out.

The next group of veterans to receive cards will be those who have appointment wait times greater than 30 days. These cards will be mailed out in the next couple of weeks.

All remaining enrolled veterans will receive their cards in December and January. Any care provided through the program must be authorized, however, and is limited to veterans who are eligible based on either distance or wait times.

The Veterans Choice Card is not a replacement for your current VA identification card.

More information about the implementation of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act is available on VA’s website.