Plans from the Michigan Secretary of State to reach out to the state’s military veterans were unveiled this week at the Capitol and Rep. Joel Johnson said he is ready to work on those that require legislative action.
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, state veterans advocates and lawmakers joined to unveil several initiatives to assist the more than 650,000 military veterans who live in Michigan, such as creating a veteran designation on state driver’s licenses and identification cards, and creating a special license plate for veterans.
“Anything we can do to improve veterans programs in Michigan goes to the top of my ‘to-do’ list and these issues are some of the things I’ve heard from people at town hall meetings or in talking to local residents,” said Rep. Johnson, R-Clare. “The initiatives we are looking at will offer more opportunities to learn about available programs and reduce the paperwork and hassle to access those programs.”
The Legislature will consider a new law to allow the secretary of state and Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to collaborate on the projects.
The driver’s license designation for honorably discharged service men and women would be included on the card after presenting documentation one time at a secretary of state branch office, and would be recognized throughout the state as proper certification.
“A veteran should not have to carry around their discharge papers for years when we can make this process more streamlined,” Johnson said.
A special veterans license plate also requires action from the Legislature and the funds raised would benefit veterans service organizations in the state, as does an idea for using certain military truck driving experience to waive the skills test portion for obtaining a Michigan commercial driver’s license endorsement.
An effort not requiring lawmakers’ approval is a push by secretary of state branch offices to offer more veterans program information and referral services to their customers.