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Governor signs law expanding veterans driver’s license designation

7/18/2016, midnight
The new law will allow veterans of the national guard and reserves to receive a identifier on their state license.

At the 98th Annual American Legion Department of Illinois Convention in Springfield this week, Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 2173 to allow National Guard members and reservists to obtain the veteran identifier on their Illinois driver's license.

The law will take effect immediately.

“Some National Guard members and reservists were concerned when they learned that they did not meet the requirements to receive the veteran identifier on their driver’s license,” said Governor Rauner. “This bill rights that wrong and ensures that they receive the same benefit as active duty veterans, as they, too, have served and worked to protect our freedoms.”

In 2015, the Secretary of State implemented a new law that allowed individuals to have a veteran identifier added to their driver's license to offer a form of tangible recognition for their service to this country.

In order to receive that designation, veterans were required to present a copy of their certificate of release or discharge from active duty, certified and stamped by the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA), to the Secretary of State. This left some National Guard members and Reservists unable to have their status verified.

"This bill ensures that every man and woman who has served this state and nation is recognized,” said Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Erica Jeffries. "Our veterans have given so much for us, and I am glad Illinois is taking this step to expand designations."

Senate Bill 2173 allows the IDVA to approve additional forms of proof of a veteran’s status so that a member of any reserve component or National Guard unit can receive the veteran identifier.

“This legislation is a common-sense way we can connect both active and non-active veterans with the resources they’ve earned because of their service,” said Sen. Pam Althoff (R-McHenry). “Whether they served in active duty or not, their service to our country is beyond what we can ever repay. This is just a small way we can help support them for their sacrifice.”

The veteran designation is no additional cost for first-time driver’s license applicants and driver’s license renewals. If veterans choose to add the designation before their renewal date, they may obtain an updated driver’s license for $5 and an updated ID card for $10. Veterans over the age of 65 can obtain an updated state ID card at no cost.