Home Depot stores profiting on veterans
December 8, 2011
By DANIEL BLACKBURN
Veterans, enticed by the promise of special discounts, load their carts at Home Depot stores only to discover the advertised discounts require a non-existent veterans’ service card.
While a portion of veterans receive medical cards, the bulk are expected to utilize their discharge documents as proof of their service to the country, a document most Home Depots refuse to honor while promoting the stores as being supportive of veterans.
Several military veterans told CalCoastNews they have battled with clerks who refused to allow them the advertised veteran discounts at San Luis Obispo County Home Depot stores because they cannot produce a veterans’ card.
Los Osos resident Bobby Roark said he went to the veterans’ administration and was told the cards are non-existent after being turned down for the discount at a local Home Depot store.
“I think they are trying to look like they are honoring the troops,” Roark said.”You are either supporting veterans or you are not. You can’t just cherry pick a few that have a health card.”
Home Depot clerks said that store policy does not permit them to accept military discharge papers as proof of prior service. The clerks said store policy requires shoppers to show a veterans’ card in order to receive the discount.
Veteran Service officials said the retail giant has long been aware that former military personnel are not provided a veterans identification card upon leaving the military and have refused to change its policy.
Kelly Hayes, an administrative assistant at San Luis Obispo County Veterans’ Services, said they have contacted the retailer who told her it is company policy to require a card. Hayes said that there are discussions of changing veterans’ policies so that all veterans have access to a card.
Currently, only veterans receiving veterans’ health care benefits are provided a card.
“You have to qualify for health care to get a card,” Hayes said. “Unfortunately, Home Depot is not accepting a discharge document stating that this member was in the military. It should be sufficient, but unfortunately it is not.
“We have talked with them about their policy, but they are not planning on changing it. It is kind of a bummer.”
Confusion over individual store policies and interpretations of eligibility have long plagued Home Depot’s 10 percent vet discount program, according to numerous Web postings and blog comments dating back several years.
“There are varying opinions (of the program),” said Stephen Holmes, senior manager of corporate communications for the Atlanta-based Home Depot, acknowledging the widespread nature of the controversy. “But the policy is in place. There was some confusion where some thought we had cancelled it, but it remains part of our commitment to honor our veterans and military.”