State Senator Len Fasano supports Veterans ID Program “If agencies are providing all of these benefits for veterans, we should have a mechanism to make it easier for them to obtain.”

February 17, 2011

Senator Len Fasano testifying before the Veterans Affairs Committee

John Anzidei a veteran from Wallingford waiting for his turn to testify in favor of the bill

Hartford, CT – Right now, a number of veterans don’t have a federal veteran ID card because they don’t qualify.  Their years of service, income, or injury don’t reach the threshold for enrollment.  An amended version of Bill SB 371 would allow any veteran in the state to get an identifying marker on their driver’s license, or state ID card at the time of renewal.

Senator Fasano believes rolling out this program when someone renews their driver’s license makes sense. Especially this year, given the mandated federal REAL ID card program is set to begin this May.

“Tying this in with that process would be a small step.  It’s important to offer this option,” said Sen. Fasano. “If agencies are providing all of these benefits for veterans we should have a mechanism to make it easier for them to obtain.”

The federal REAL ID program requires residents to present a birth certificate or passport at the time of license or ID card renewal.  This bill would allow the Department of Motor Vehicle to accept a veteran’s paperwork proving military service – thus allowing a veteran marker to be added to the card. A similar process is currently available for organ donors in Connecticut.

This amended path to Bill SB 371 is one that State Department of Veteran’s Affairs commissioner Linda Schwartz also supported at Thursday’s public hearing.  Schwartz recommended lawmakers follow the lead of many other states and offer the veterans’ symbol or identifier.  Schwartz believes identifying citizens in need who are veterans is the most important first step in channeling them to the many programs and services that are available. 

Services, like the ones offered at many retail outlets around the state. If a veteran or active armed services member can show military status they can receive discounts.  Senator Fasano says, “During these tough economic times any money that can be saved at point of purchase goes a long way for those in need.”

Wallingford veteran John Anzidei brought the issue to Senator Fasano and says many vets are struggling and providing this proof of service will help. “Which veterans does this affect the most? The ones that need it the most,” said Anzidei.

The bill remains before the Veterans Affairs Committee.