Detroit Free Press
  Tuesday, October 11, 2011
 
 

  Macomb County proposes photo IDs for veterans
 

By CHRISTINA HALL
Free Press Staff Writer

Military veterans could have an easier time cashing in on discounts offered by businesses through a proposed veteran photo identification card available through the Macomb County Clerk/Register of Deeds.

Fred Humig, 65, of Washington Township said veterans often have to show proof of their service through a photo ID to get discounts. But many like him -- a Vietnam veteran -- weren't issued ID cards upon discharge and don't have a Department of Veterans Affairs veterans ID card for health care.

Humig said veterans often don't carry their military service papers because they contain personal information.

The county-issued card -- which Humig proposed to county Clerk/Register of Deeds Carmella Sabaugh about a year ago -- would allow veterans to show a valid photo ID for discounts, which could range from free meals to percentages off at retailers.

The proposal is expected to be discussed today by the Macomb County commissioners' justice and public safety committee.

"I'm hoping that down the road, if I'm 75 and can no longer drive and in senior housing, that's what I could use for ID to vote," Humig said.

Sabaugh's office would be the first in the tri-county area to offer the service, which would cost no more than $10 per card. Veteran photo ID cards aren't offered by the Wayne or Oakland county clerks' offices. Such cards are offered in Emmet and Charlevoix counties.

Other counties across the country offer the service. Last month, the Veteran's ID Card Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. It would create a standardized ID card that, for an undetermined fee, would provide proof of military service.

Michigan has about 704,000 veterans, according to Department of Veterans Affairs statistics from September 2010.

Sabaugh said the service would not cost taxpayers anything. "It's similar to what people do to get their gun permits," Sabaugh said. "We'd use the same equipment. We'd really like to start it for Veterans Day."

To get the wallet-size card, veterans would be required to provide photo ID, such as a driver's license, and a copy of their DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.

Veterans wouldn't be required to get the card, which would be recognized on a voluntary basis by businesses and wouldn't be a substitute for an official military ID card.

Humig, who said he served in the Army in 1966-68, said he tried unsuccessfully to have the Secretary of State identify on a driver's license when a cardholder is a veteran. He would like to see the ID card service expanded to other Michigan counties, with the next stop being Oakland County.

"We have people who come in all the time and want an ID card. A lot of veterans want to use it to get discounts at the stores," said Lauren Chamberlin, veterans benefits counselor supervisor with Oakland County Veterans' Services.