By Deonta Larkins
INDIANAPOLIS – Legislation to make it easier to identify the spouses of deceased veterans passed out of a House committee Wednesday by a unanimous vote.
Sen. Michael Crider, R- Greenfield, said that Senate Bill 382 would allow a surviving spouse of a veteran to request veteran status on his or her driver’s license or state identification cards.
File photo of an Indiana driver’s license. Photo by Shelby Mullis, TheStatehouseFile.com
The current law only provides that the veteran may have that status on the driver’s license or other identification.
Jim Bowery, of the Military/Veteran Coalition of Indiana, said his group helped draft the proposed legislation.
Bowery said there are 469,210 veterans living in Indiana and fewer than 28 percent of veterans in Indiana receive benefits they are entitled to. On average, 38 percent of veterans across the country receive their benefits, which amounts to $2.8 billion annually, he added.
By providing surviving spouses with the ability to gain a veteran designation on their IDs, the state could identify more people eligible for benefits, Bowery said.
In addition, the bill would allow veterans to add the veteran status to their IDs when renewing their driver’s license. Currently, veterans have to go to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and file a special form in order to receive identification as a veteran.
William Henry of the American Legion, Department of Indiana, also testified in favor of the bill.
Henry said it’s a smart approach that will help organizations like his identify and notify veterans and their surviving spouses of benefits available to them.
Deonta Larkins is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a website powered by Franklin College journalism students.