What is a veteran? Do you know or understand what designates a former military member as a veteran? There’s a lot of misunderstanding surrounding what exactly a veteran designation entails. Many Americans believe a veteran and a retiree are one in the same. It’s important that Americans understand that a veteran need not have retired from the military. But how can a veteran prove his service and honorable discharge?
When a veteran is receiving care with the Veterans Administration (VA) or is disabled he’s entitled to receive an ID card from the VA; however, an honorably discharged veteran is only provided with a DD-214 (discharge papers) and short of carrying around a complicated-appearing government form, there’s no easy way for a veteran to demonstrate his status.
The solution is to provide veterans with a special designation on their driver’s license that easily identifies them as having served and honorably discharged from the military. Currently, there are only nine states, Georgia, Oregon, Minnesota, Connecticut, Arkansas, Florida, Delaware, North Carolina, and Utah that provide the option to make this distinction of veteran status on drivers’ licenses. Several other states have legislation pending to make the option for veteran’s designation available to their state’s veterans.
Terrence Thomas, a Navy veteran, and CEO of Military and Veteran Discount Center, has established a state veterans designation watch to monitor the status of the bills in front of each state’s legislature. He encourages all voters, but especially veterans, to contact their representatives to get these bills passed. Like the oft-forgotten DD214 form which gets locked away after discharge, these bills often go unnoticed and fail to move forward due to lack of attention, not because there’s any true opposition to them.
Why is this Veteran Status Designation Important?
States with large veteran populations have seen a drop in the amount of participation in veteran’s benefit programs. In order to ensure vets receive the compensation and full benefits due to them, the ability to quickly and easily identify themselves as veterans will make it more convenient for them to access the services due to them. A simple designation on a driver’s license is also a cost-effective way to ease the process of receiving veteran’s benefits.
One common unofficial benefit is military discounts. A driver’s license designation is helpful so that veterans can take advantage of the numerous military discounts businesses offer service members. There are often generous discounts provided for active duty personnel, military spouses, retirees, and veterans; however, to be able to use them, a valid ID is usually mandatory and without one, most veterans are ineligible. According to Thomas, “Many veterans without an ID feel like they are perpetrating a fraud when asking for a military discount and cannot produce a valid ID.” With a veteran-status designation on their license veterans can take part in military discount programs and special offers and avoids the potentially embarrassing situation of asking for a discount they’re eligible for but can’t receive due to a lack of proof.
Lastly, another for designating veteran status on a state driver’s license is that it serves as a reminder to the veteran and others whom he encounters that he served and of the gratitude Americans feel for his service. A veteran’s driver’s license with this designation will become a source of pride.
To keep tabs on which states are granting veteran status designation, check back with the state veterans designation watch at MVDC and try out this unofficial DD214 site to find your state’s veterans administration.