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My Turn: Veterans could use a little help from the DMV

Every day the state of New Hampshire costs veterans thousands of dollars. I am not referring to taxes but to various discounts, preferences and other benefits offered to bona fide veterans.

Many businesses and organizations offer discounts and other benefits but require a photo ID. Simple.

To get one, just go to a Department of Veterans Affairs office and present your DD-214 (discharge papers) and get an ID, right? Wrong.

Veterans do not qualify for a veteran’s ID unless they meet certain criteria. If veterans qualify for VA health care (having served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, etc) or if they retired from the military or were disabled by their service, they will qualify for a veteran’s ID.

But thousands of veterans do not have a photo ID proving they are veterans. I served in the U.S. Navy from 1961 to 1964 and do not qualify for a veteran’s ID from the VA. But most businesses and organizations want a bona fide veteran ID, not a copy of the DD-214’s.

For several years, I have tried to get a veteran photo ID. I have worked with various congressmen and their offices. There are several bills in Congress that have died in committees.

What is the answer?

Veterans need the state of New Hampshire or towns to solve the problem. Several months ago, I started working with local politicians on the issue of photo IDs for veterans. I was told that House Bill 1629 was passed, signed by the governor and effective August 2012. However, if you read the law, the Division of Motor Vehicles has until July 2014 to implement the law.

Where does New Hampshire stand on this issue compared to the other states? Thirty states produce driver’s licenses with a veteran designation. Eleven states, including New Hampshire, have pending legislation. Ten are doing nothing.

New Hampshire is among the most veteran-friendly states in the Union. Many communities, businesses and organizations demonstrate their appreciation by offering various discounts, preferences and other benefits to bona fide veterans.

Providing veterans with a state photo ID will help them enjoy the full range of personal, business and social benefits. We will be able to proudly show that we are veterans.

It is unacceptable that the DMV needs two years to implement this law.

(Jim Mayotte lives in Sanbornton.)

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