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Military veteran ID cards granted on honor system

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Pennsylvania military veterans can apply for special driver's licenses or ID cards showing their veteran status, but the state is relying on “self-certification” and random audits to ensure no one is scamming discounts, benefits and recognition.

Residents can apply online or at any driver's license center to get a new or duplicate noncommercial driver's license or state ID card with an American flag and the word “veteran” on it.

Stan Schubert, 71, commandant of the Bantam Marine League Detachment in Butler County and a Vietnam War veteran, said he was surprised applicants did not have to show a DD214 form — an official military service record — to get the IDs.

“They may check; they may not check. Who knows?” he said. “I wish they would require more proof.”

Other than having the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs conduct random checks of eligible vets against lists of those who receive the veteran designation, PennDOT is relying on applicants to be honest and “self-certify” their status when signing up, said PennDOT spokeswoman Jan McKnight.

“They will be audited ... and anybody found to be fraudulent will have their driver's license or ID canceled,” she said.

Joan Nissley, spokeswoman for Military and Veterans Affairs, said her agency will receive daily updates on all who applied for or received the veteran designation on their cards, and will audit 10 percent to 20 percent selected at random. As of Thursday, 2,500 people had signed up for the new cards.

The cards can prove a veteran's qualifications for discounts at stores and restaurants, but stricter documentation is required to claim VA benefits or access to military facilities.

They can help emergency responders recognize someone dealing with post-traumatic stress or habits picked up during deployment, such as a former convoy driver in the habit of driving quickly through dangerous areas, Nissley said.

“This is also a way for Pennsylvania to recognize and honor the service of our veterans,” she said. “If you're in a store and see someone with the ‘veteran' card, you can say, ‘Thank you for your service.' ”

There is no cost for the veteran designation, though the usual fees for renewing a license, state ID card or duplicate still apply.

Commercial driver's licenses also can have the designation but require a separate form and cannot be obtained online.

More information is available at dmv.state.pa.us under the “Veterans Designation” link.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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