Atkins Measure Would Create Veterans Designation on Driver’s Licenses

DOVER – Delawareans who served in the military would be able to add a designation to their driver’s licenses or identification cards, eliminating the need for a separate ID card, under legislation being proposed by Rep. John C. Atkins.

Under the measure, which will be House Bill 255 when it is filed next week, the Division of Motor Vehicles would add information regarding veteran status to the Delaware driver’s license or ID card upon request. Any person who served in the U.S. armed forces and was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable would be eligible to have the designation added. Forty-two other states already have such a law on the books, with four other states considering similar measures.

Currently, Delaware veterans have to carry a separate card or their official discharge papers to prove their service. Less than 5 percent of the 76,750 veterans living in Delaware have obtained the veteran ID cards since they were instituted three years ago. Delaware is one of only two states (Virginia is the other) that have separate cards for veterans.

“I think it’s troubling that such a small number of veterans have signed up for this program. Having to apply for a separate card at the DMV clearly is not working,” said Rep. Atkins, D-Millsboro. “I talk to a lot of veterans, and many are not aware of this card. There are a lot of businesses that offer military discounts, so rather than printing and carrying around an extra identification card, let’s simplify the system and make it one card by adding one word or logo to our existing licenses.”

The systems used by other states vary: some add the word “veteran” to driver’s licenses and ID cards, while others add military branch-of-service emblems. Rep. Atkins’ proposal would leave the decision to the state Division of Motor Vehicles.

The chairs of the House and Senate veterans committees, Rep. Earl Jaques and Sen. Bruce Ennis, respectively, are co-sponsors of this proposal, with 20 other legislators already signing on.