Tuesday, September 4, is not a recognized veterans’ holiday in Rhode Island, but for Sen. Walter S. Felag Jr. it will be a day of importance and pride for all Rhode Islanders who have served in the military.
As a result of a new law enacted this year, the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles is poised to begin issuing a veteran-status driver’s license or identification card to any honorably discharged service member who presents a Certificate of Release from Active Duty or other acceptable documentation of military service. An online application form for the license is already available on the DMV website. (A PDF of the form is attached to this article.)
Passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the governor earlier this year, the new law adds Rhode Islandto a list of states that allow residents who have served in the military to have their veteran status displayed on the license. Under the new law, there is no additional cost (beyond the normal license renewal charge) for issuance of a license or ID with the veteran designation.
The new law is the result of legislation (2012-S 2161Aaa) sponsored in the Senate by Senator Felag (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Tiverton, Bristol), chairman of the Senate Committee on Special Legislation and Veterans’ Affairs. A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Peter Martin (D-Dist. 75, Newport).
Senator Felag said he was gratified that the General Assembly and governor acted to allow the issuance of the veteran license, which he called “meaningful and helpful for our fellow citizens who did their duty and served their country with honor and valor.”
“Not only will these licenses allow veterans to show pride in their service, but they will also provide a number of other benefits to veterans,” he said, as important information for first responders in the case of a medical emergency, quick identification for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in regard to benefit eligibility, and as a convenient form of identification to allow veterans to take advantage of discounts and other incentives afforded to them.
“The veterans I know are not boastful, but they are proud of their service,” said Senator Felag, “and placing that designation on their driver’s license will be a constant reminder that the state is aware of their sacrifice and grateful for it.”
Because the September 1 effective date of the new law is the Saturday of the long Labor Day Weekend, Senator Felag said the DMV has informed him it will officially begin issuing the licenses on Tuesday, September 4.