Thiele: Veteran Designation Now Available on Driver’s Licenses

New York State is home to more than 900,000 military veterans and families. Their sacrifices have safeguarded our way of life, and without them, our country wouldn’t be nearly what it is today. As a member of the state Assembly, I’m committed to honoring and helping those who have served our country in the military.

Beginning in October, a new law allows eligible residents to have their status as a veteran designated on their New York State driver’s license (Ch. 487 of 2012). Those who qualify can have the word “Veteran” printed on the upper left corner of their newly issued license, learner permit or non-driver photo identification card at no additional charge. While the standard $12.50 license replacement fee currently applies if a veteran chooses to replace his or her current license prior to its expiration date, I have just co-sponsored legislation to waive this replacement license fee.

Rather than carrying official military paperwork wherever they go, these special licenses will allow veterans to show proof of their service anywhere they bring their wallets. As a result, it will be easier for veterans to take advantage of many of the programs, benefits and discounts that are available to them. With this new law, New York will join more than three dozen states that offer similar options for veterans.

If you are an eligible veteran, you can apply for the status designation in person at a Department of Motor Vehicles office or by mail. To qualify, you will need to provide verification that you received an honorable discharge from military service or were released from military service under honorable conditions. If you would like to apply in person, you will need to provide an original document, which will be returned to you; if you apply by mail, you can include a photocopy. Acceptable forms of verification include:

· a U.S. Department of Defense form DD-214 that indicates an honorable discharge;
· a form DD-215 that indicates an honorable discharge; or
· honorable discharge forms WD AGO 53, WD AGO 55, WD AGO 53-55, NAVPERS 553, NAVMC 78PD or NAVCG 553.

This law will make it easier and more convenient for those who have served our country to get the benefits they deserve. The brave men and women of our military have made enormous sacrifices for all of us, and we have a responsibility to do everything we can to support them. In the Assembly, I’ll continue to work hard on behalf of veterans, their families and all New Yorkers.

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