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Free Veteran Designation on Licenses Coming to California

September 23, 2022

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, September 23rd, 2022

CONTACT: Jackie.Koenig@sen.ca.gov, (916) 502-7674

Free Veteran Designation on Licenses Coming to California 

(Sacramento, CA) – Senator Thomas J. Umberg (D-Santa Ana) announced that his Senate Bill 837, which repeals the current $5 fee charged by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for issuance of a “veteran” designation on a driver’s license or identification card, was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom last week.

“I want to thank Governor Newsom and my legislative colleagues for understanding the value of this program to veterans and their families,” said Senator Thomas J. Umberg (D-Santa Ana). “By increasing our ability to connect veterans to resources, services, and social networks, we show members of the military that their service and sacrifices are not forgotten and are, indeed, applauded by their country, state, and local communities.”

California was the second to the last state in the nation to allow a veterans’ designation on its driver’s license. With the passage of AB 935 in 2014, California made available this designation for a fee of $5. To date, as a result of AB 935, over 219,850 veterans have visited their local County Veteran Service Offices (CVSOs) to receive this veteran designation. During these visits, 85,918 veterans filed claims with the federal Veterans Administration (VA) and more than 35,384 veterans are now receiving annualized VA payments totaling $202,499,570. This does not include over $117 million in retroactive payments and $2.06 million in miscellaneous payments.

Were it not for the drivers’ license program continuing to direct veterans to their CVSOs, it’s likely those veterans would not have discovered the untapped financial and health care resources available to them. This program has had a tremendous impact on thousands of California veterans and their families. That said, there are still veterans in the state who are not aware that they may be eligible for VA benefits. By making the veterans designation on a driver’s license more accessible, the state can ensure that more veterans will be connected to their benefits.

SB 837, sponsored by the California Association of County Veterans Service Officers, completely removes the $5 fee as a means to entice more veterans to utilize the services of CVSOs in order to get them connected to the VA benefits they earned by virtue of their service.  VA benefits can be generous, but are complicated to apply for because each veteran’s circumstance of their service is different.

“By making this designation more accessible, we will ensure that our veterans are easily and efficiently connected to state and federal services and programs,” said Senator Umberg.

After receiving bi-partisan support and no opposition throughout the legislative process, SB 837 was signed into law on September 17th as Chapter 383 of the Statutes of 2022. Its provisions will take effect on January 1, 2023.

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Senator Thomas Umberg represents the 34th Senate District which includes the cities of Anaheim, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Garden Grove, Long Beach, Los Alamitos,

Midway City, Orange, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, and Westminster. Umberg is a member of the Senate Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, a retired U.S. Army Colonel,

and former federal prosecutor. He and his wife, Brigadier General Robin Umberg, USA (ret.), live in Orange County.