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There's a new way to identify Michigan's military veterans. Beginning May 1st, veterans will be able to display their proof of service on their Michigan driver's license.
The designation simply adds the word "veteran" in red on the bottom right corner of the card. Republican State Representative Nancy Jenkins of Lenawee County's Clayton introduced the legislation that made the program a reality. Jenkins says she proposed the idea, after hearing from a veterans activist in her district. "There was a veteran who wanted to get to the Lenawee County Fair and wasn't allowed admission on Veterans Day because he didn't have proper designation, proper paperwork."
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says, it's fitting that the new license will be available during the month where veterans are remembered and honored for their service. Johnson said, "I think its very important to have the veterans designation for those that have been honorably discharged in Michigan because it allows them to get so many benefits that they've earned and deserve."
Johnson says about 680,000 military veterans live in Michigan. They've earned government benefits, but are also entitled to a lot of other perks. Jeff Barnes, Director of Michigan's Veterans Affairs Agency says the new license will help veterans take advantage of many benefits. Barnes said, "It will make it easier to get some of those local retail discounts or box store discounts that are offered. They don't have to carry their paperwork with them anymore and have those dog eared falling out of their pocket."
Johnson adds, "Not only does it help them get those benefits. But I hope every librarian, everyone that works in any kind of retail or in the bank, they take just a moment and say thank you to that veteran when they see that designation on their drivers license."
Jenkins is proud to see veterans get the recognition on the new license. "It's an important thing, it's a simple thing. But its a big deal to veterans so, it's good for Michigan."