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More National Guard, reserve soldiers could qualify for veteran designation on MN licenses, ID cards

Vicki Schwartz spent more than 26 years in the U.S. Army Reserve, retiring from service in 2001.

When the former Army major moved to Minnesota, she tried to have a veteran designation added to her driver’s license. She discovered, despite those 26 years, she didn’t qualify.

Rep. Jon Koznick (R-Lakeville) would like to change that missed opportunity to recognize veterans.

Koznick sponsors HF2966 that, as amended, would allow members of the National Guard or reserves to qualify for the designation on state-issued licenses and ID cards if they meet certain requirements.

The bill was approved 10-0 by the House Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee Wednesday and referred to the House Transportation Finance and Policy Committee.

“For Maj. Schwartz and several Minnesota veterans like her, there is no doubt that they’ve served our country honorably,” Koznick said. “We should be privileged to provide the small recognition by adding the veteran’s designation on their license or ID, or even auto plates if they do request that.”

Under current law, veterans must have served 181 consecutive days on active duty to qualify for the designation. For many in the National Guard and reserves, they don’t often fulfill that consecutive-day requirement despite multiple years or service.

Schwartz said her longest stint was 119 consecutive days.

The bill would allow a member of the National Guard or reserves who retired from the service after at least 20 years to qualify for the designation. Members of the National Guard or reserves would also qualify if they presented a veteran ID card or veteran health ID card.

Veterans would be required to be separated with honorable discharge or general discharge under honorable conditions.

“I’m guessing that many of you are probably wondering why would I go through this much work and this much effort for asking for something that seems insignificant,” Schwartz said. “From my perspective, I’m a proud American, a proud Minnesotan and a proud veteran. My family, friends and I sacrificed a lot over those 26 ½ years, so I can serve our country.”

The adopted amendments bring the bill in line with its companion, SF2875. Sponsored by Sen. Jeff Howe (R-Rockville), it awaits action by the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee.

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