Bill would provide special license plates for servicemen and women
Sen. Moore co-sponsors bill
By Alison McCall
September 14, 2011 ... Active-duty military personnel who call Massachusetts home may soon be eligible for special license plates recognizing their branch of service, should a bill filed Monday by state Rep. James Vallee pass.
The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Bruce Tarr, the state Senate minority leader, would require the Registry of Motor Vehicles to print the emblem of the U.S. Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps or Air Force on the license plate of a Massachusetts resident who actively serves in one of those branches.
"If you have so much pride in your military service that you want to put that on your license (plate) that's worth noting," said Vallee, D-Franklin, chairman of the Joint Committee of Veterans and Federal Affairs.
Current plate options are limited. Veterans and service men and women can get credit for their medals, such as the Purple Heart, without charge, but other than that, the only other recognition available is having "veteran" or "National Guard" under the plate's letters and numbers. For these, a $40 special plate fee is added to the $50 initial fee, and the renewal fee every two years is also $90.
Some advocates for veterans are wondering if something similar to what Vallee is proposing can be done for those who are done serving in the military.
"A lot of guys would love a veteran's plate," said Bob Fahey, Franklin veteran's agent.
Fahey, along with Dale Kurtz, the president of the West Point Society of New England, is working on a few initiatives to recognize veterans.
Fahey is happy with the bill Vallee filed, but he and Kurtz want to go a step further, with veteran identification on licenses.
"I was going crazy in the early winter," said Fahey, who said he took calls from many veterans about veteran discounts from Home Depot and Lowes that required photograph identification. "Everybody wanted this discount from Lowes and Home Depot. I kept getting all these vets saying, 'Bob, where do I get an ID?"'
Veteran cards with photo IDs are available to those who have retired from the military, are serving right now, or are in the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs medical system, Fahey said. But healthy veterans who were honorably discharged have only their discharge papers, and no document that proves veteran status with a photograph.
"As we draw down in the Middle East, we're worried recognition (of veterans) won't be as strong," Kurtz said. "Do they become sort of pushed aside and forgotten for the work they've done?"
Vallee said he supports the idea of putting some form of veteran recognition on a license - Fahey suggested the word "veteran" or just the letter "V" beneath the name - but the legislator did not want to speak for the Joint Committee of Veterans and Federal Affairs.
"We're looking at it. I think there needs to be some sort of ID for veterans, especially for veteran discounts," Vallee said. "We are looking at something that might go on the license."
Meanwhile, the license plate bill applies only to those actively serving, but once obtained, the license plate will not be revoked if the resident retires or is honorably discharged. The plate could cost up to $35 for manufacturing costs.
This article appears courtesy of the Milford Daily News