By Colleen Siuzdak

A bill signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week will place a distinguishing mark on a state driver’s licenses and non-driver identification card to indicate the card holder is a veteran. The new program is designed as a way to better connect veterans with available services and eliminate the need for extra documentation for receiving discounts.

“It is already well-understood by veterans just how much New York does to uniquely identify and appreciate us through its various legislative initiatives,” said Karim Delgado, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Okinawa, the Philippines, Thailand and Afghanistan. “As more troops come back from the war and re-enter civilian life, I’m proud to see my state’s actions match the rhetoric of troop appreciation to ensure these returning soldiers understand it’s more than just words,” said Delgado, a Manhattan resident.

This bill, S.6799/A.9611, sponsored by Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, and Assemblyman Bob Sweeney, D-Babylon, is an amendment to the Vehicle and Traffic Law and will take effect in one year.

The Department of Motor Vehicles in the meantime will be revising its application forms and processes to handle requests for a status mark, according to the press release.

“Once identified, we can proactively communicate with veterans to connect them to the hundreds of services and benefits available. I am proud to be the sponsor of this bill and I thank the governor for his continued support and leadership on this critical matter,” said Ball, chairman of the Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee, in a press release from his office.

Eugene Parotta, chairman of Ball’s Veterans Advisory Council, said returning veterans have difficulty transitioning to civilian life, especially in finding employment. He said this new law will help reach out to veterans who could use services available regarding employment, education, tax credits and more.

“These men and women have made invaluable sacrifices for our state and nation, and now that they have returned home, government will work for them,” Cuomo said in a press release. “We are proud to help distinguish them as veterans.”

Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, co-sponsor of the bill, said this legislation will help identify veterans and allow them to easily access special discounts offered at businesses statewide.

“Easing the ID process for veterans and businesses who want to provide our brave servicemen and women with a thank you shouldn’t be that difficult,” said Seward in a press release from his office.

Jessica Tobin, a Marine Corps veteran who toured Okinawa, Philippines, and Camp Pendleton, and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, said this new initiative will help identify veterans, encourage them to use available benefits and possibly bring veterans together.

“Veterans are among us, and it would be great if we could identify them and thank them for their service or discuss our common experiences,” the Manhattan resident said in an email to The Legislative Gazette. (ARTICLE)

About Greg Ball

Assemblyman Greg Ball (R, C, I – Patterson) is the Senator for New York State's 40th district. A former Vice President of Exceed International Development Corporation, Ball holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the United States Air Force Academy, is currently completing his Masters Thesis of Liberal Studies in International Affairs at Georgetown University, and received an honorable discharge in 2005 at the rank of Captain after service as an active duty officer in the United States Air Force. View all posts by Greg Ball →
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