Lawmakers approve veteran designation on driver’s licenses

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a leader in efforts to put a special “veteran” designation on driver’s licenses of honorably discharged veterans, said the new distinction will help veterans get the benefits they have earned and deserve.

“It’s my hope that every store clerk and bank teller who notices that designation will take a moment to personally thank that veteran for their service to this country,” said Johnson, who worked closely with lawmakers and bill sponsors Rep. Nancy Jenkins, R-Clayton, and Senator Darwin Booher, R-Evart.

Johnson said Senate Bill 219 and companion House Bill 4037 will give Michigan veterans easy-to-carry, clear-cut documentation of their service. The designation will also be used on state issued personal identification cards.

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 is another great step to recognize Michigan veterans for their service and help to connect them with opportunities available to them,” said Jeff Barnes, director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. “We thank Secretary of State Johnson for her leadership and commitment to Michigan’s vets.”

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 Michigan’s 680,000 veterans.

Those efforts include a new law passed last year to ensure absentee ballots are sent to overseas 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 & Veteran Affairs to put veteran benefit information in each of the state’s 131 Secretary of State 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.