Secretary of State
MAY 14, 2013
Johnson celebrates signing of bills to put special veteran designation on driver's licenses
LANSING, Mich. – Calling it a good day for Michigan veterans, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today watched as Gov. Snyder signed bills that will put a special veteran designation on the driver's licenses of honorably discharged veterans.
"I hope every store clerk, every bank teller and every wait staff who notices the veteran designation will take a moment to just thank that veteran," said Johnson, who worked closely with lawmakers and bill sponsors Rep. Nancy Jenkins, R-Clayton, and Senator Darwin Booher, R-Evart. "This will be easy, clear-cut proof of their service that they can use to more easily access the services they've earned and deserve."
The designation will be available on driver's licenses and personal state IDs beginning May 2014.
"I would like to thank Representative Jenkins and Senator Booher for sponsoring these bills and Secretary Johnson for her support," said Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency Director Jeff Barnes. "The veterans designation is a great way for Michigan to honor those who have served and makes it easier for veterans to access discounts and offers from retailers, restaurants and hotels who offer special opportunities to veterans. It's another great step that improves the quality of life for Michigan's veterans."
Michigan, home to some 680,000 veterans, is the 28th state to put a veteran's designation on state-issued IDs and driver's licenses.
"This common-sense legislation eliminates hassles that our veterans continually go through when trying to prove their service for benefits or discounts," said Jenkins, R-Clayton. "We can never thank our veterans enough for the sacrifices they have made for this country, but this is another way we can make their lives easier and eliminate obstacles they may face."
"In appreciation of America's veterans, many places offer discounts to veterans and their families," said Booher, R-Evart. "I sponsored this measure after hearing from veterans in my district about finding a simpler way to prove their military service. Instead of having to carry around their discharge forms, veterans can now have a special insignia appear on their driver's license and state ID that verifies their status."
Garth Wooten, president of the Michigan Association of County Veterans Counselors and division manager for Oakland County Veterans Services, said veterans are looking forward to carrying the new driver's licenses.
"Veterans are very proud of their service and this will give them a source of pride when they do have to show that identification," Wooten said. "We're very excited that we'll be able to use this as an opportunity to reach out to veterans to make them aware of benefits they may be eligible for."
Johnson, who personally visited troops in the Middle East last year as part of her efforts to make voting easier for overseas military members, is also leading other initiatives aimed at helping veterans.
Those efforts include a new law passed last year to ensure absentee ballots are sent overseas to troops by the required deadline, giving them ample time to return those ballots in time to be counted on Election Day.
Also planned is a new fundraising license plate that will raise money directly for Michigan veterans and their families.
In addition, her office is working with the state's Department of Military and Veteran Affairs to put veteran benefit information in each of the state's 131 Secretary of State branch offices.
Johnson was also a leader on legislation that passed last year to cut government red tape and help veterans rejoin the workforce more easily once they get home. Under that new law, the road test for veterans applying for a commercial driver's license is waived if they have verified proof of heavy truck driving experience during their military service.
For media questions, please call Gisgie Dávila Gendreau at 517-373-2520.