Veteran designation on licenses has some Iowans frustrated - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Veteran designation on licenses has some Iowans frustrated

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

A law approved Tuesday allows some Iowans to have a "veteran" designation put on their driver's license or nonoperator identification card (ID).

The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) implemented the law on Jan. 15, 2013, to demonstrate the state's support for its veterans.

The law is designed to help veterans get discounts or recognition of military status without having to show official military documents.

But it hasn't been implemented without problems.

Rex Eyestone of Waterloo spent 1969-1970 serving in Vietnam.

"There's sights and sounds that you'll never forget," said Eyestone.

When Eyestone heard about the new law that could change the look of his driver's license, he was ready to go to the DOT.

"I was ready to go down and get it. I didn't care how much it cost. I was going to go down and pick one up. I called a few of my friends from Vietnam and advised them also about this, and they were extremely happy," said Eyestone.

Eyestone said he didn't want the veteran's status added to his license for discounts; he said he wanted it because he was proud to have served.

"It would just be a point of recognition, something that says I'm a proud veteran," he said.

But Eyestone found out this week he couldn't get the veteran's designation added to his license for a few years because his license wasn't up for renewal yet.

The law only allows the designation to be added when a driver's license or ID is first issued or when it is renewed.

The law does not allow the designation to be added on a duplicate card issued between renewals.

"They dangle something in front of you and get your hopes up, and then right at the last second they pull the rug out from underneath you," he said.

Director of Motor Vehicle Division for the DOT Mark Lowe said he sympathizes with veterans like Eyestone.

"Obviously since we have a five year renewal period, if a person has renewed in the last couple of years they have a fairly long waiting period until they can add that on their next renewal," said Lowe.

Lowe said it was evident that some veterans were not going to be happy that they might have to wait a few years to add the designation on their license.

"We actually lose money every time we issue a duplicate license because it costs close to ten dollars a license," said Lowe.

Lowe said fees for duplicate licenses are only a fraction of the cost it takes to make them and on average the state loses 7-8 dollars per duplicate.

"We might be victims of the fees, but there's a way to get around that. I know there is," said Eyestone.

Lowe said the DOT has been working on changes. It has already started conversations with legislators about changing the fee scale, something he said hadn't been changed since the 1980s.

"If we're not losing money on the issuance of duplicates, than certainly increasing the amount of duplicates - by allowing people to be issued a duplicate to add the veteran status - won't cause any additional harm either," said Lowe.

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