Military veterans can now get a driver's license identifying their status, which will allow businesses to honor their service without worrying about fraud, state officials said Thursday.
Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Rita Aragon, secretary for Veterans Affairs, said her department has encouraged veterans to ask local merchants across the state to offer free or discounted services to those who have served, which is hard to do without a way to positively identify someone as a veteran.
“Most of the veterans in the state don't have a way of being recognized,” Aragon said. “With Veterans Day coming up, it's kind of fresh in our minds that we owe a lot to them.”
Aragon said she looked at issuing veterans ID cards through her office, but the project would have been too expensive and would have required veterans to drive to one or two locations across the state to get an ID. Driver's licenses were a logical alternative because they are distributed all across the state at tag agencies.
Transition under way
Mike Thompson, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, said he loved the idea of adding a veteran icon to state driver's licenses. Thompson is a colonel in the Oklahoma National Guard and has two sons in the military.
The Legislature approved the idea earlier this year, and two tag agencies in Edmond started making the new licenses Thursday. The new licenses have an icon above the driver's photo with a waving American flag above the word “veteran.”
Officials said new equipment is required for the licenses and will be installed at other tag agencies across the state beginning late next month. All tag agencies should be able to make licenses with the veteran icon by February or March.
How to get it
Those wanting the icon added to their license will need to take their military discharge paperwork to their local tag agency. The icon is available to anyone actively serving or honorably discharged from any branch of the military.
“We are very excited to get to offer this now, and hopefully our veterans will get the word out that it's available,” Thompson said.