Honorably discharged veterans in Texas soon will be able to list their status on their driver's licenses thanks to a bill passed during the 82nd legislative session.
House Bill 1514 will allow veterans to add an endorsement to their licenses as proof of honorable service.
Showing a license should be easier than having to carry military discharge forms to agencies and businesses that provide benefits or discounts to veterans, said state Rep.Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, who sponsored the bill.
"There's so many different companies out there that honor our veterans for their service, but in order to prove their service they have to show their DD214 discharge papers," Isaac said.
"It's like me carrying around my birth certificate, and that's just something you don't want to do. You don't want to damage or lose it," he said.
'They're our heroes'
Other states have passed similar legislation, including Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Oregon and Indiana.
Isaac said he wanted to honor veterans for their service.
"They're our heroes, and I thought that this was one small way that I could make their lives a little bit easier if they choose," he said. "It is an optional endorsement. And it doesn't cost anything."
The bill takes effect Thursday, but because the Department of Public Safety must establish rules as well as develop software for the new license, it may not be available until early next year, Isaac said.
"It'll turn out to be very convenient, and a little point of recognition, so yeah I like it," said Vietnam veteran John A. Miterko, legislative liaison for the Texas Coalition of Veterans Organizations.
"As soon as I can do it, I'm going to get my license changed over," Miterko said.
No pass to speed
Miterko pointed out that the new licenses could also help law enforcement identify candidates for veteran's courts, pretrial diversion programs that allow troubled vets to opt for supervised treatment and other services rather than going through the regular court system.
"I don't think it's going to get anyone out of any speeding tickets or anything, and that's not the intent, but I think the state government in this case is taking pains to recognize and honor our service, and I think that's important," said Iraq War veteran John Boerstler, president of Lone Star Veterans Association.
The new licenses should also help veterans groups spot those who are trying to take advantage of resources or benefits they didn't actually earn through military service, Boerstler said.
"For me as a person who serves veterans, it's going to be easy to identify those who served and served honorably in the United States armed forces because we do get a lot of fraud," he said.
Last updated by Lone Star Veterans Association Aug 31, 2011.