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Driver's licenses to ID veterans

| Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Starting March 1, PennDOT will issue driver's licenses carrying a special designation for Pennsylvania's 950,000 military veterans.

“It's something the veteran community felt would be a benefit,” said Joan Nissley, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veteran Affairs.

Gov. Tom Corbett in late 2012 signed into law a provision to allow PennDOT to issue the special driver's licenses for veterans.

Officials said veterans can start applying online for the licenses on March 1.

Corbett and PennDOT officials are planning to make a formal announcement about the program in early March.

Both state offices on Friday declined to release details about the program or the announcement.

The licenses will not carry any additional costs other than the existing replacement price charged by PennDOT.

A veteran can elect to replace his or her current license or wait until that license is due to be replaced, Nissley said.

Matt Zamosky, director of Veterans Affairs in Westmoreland County, said the question he is most frequenty asked by veterans is how they can provide proof of military service without having to carry around discharge papers.

“At least weekly, I get people who come in and ask for an identification card,” Zamosky said.

The driver's license with the special designation is expected to solve that problem.

About 36,000 veterans live in Westmoreland County, Zamosky said.

That includes Merle Baker, 68, of Jeannette, who served as a Marine in Vietnam from 1966 to '68,

Baker said he welcomes programs for veterans.

“Anything that helps a veteran is a good idea,” he said. “The more identification we have, the better it is.”

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reachedat 724-830-6293or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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