Georgia rolls out new veterans' drivers' licenses - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

GA rolls out new veterans' drivers' licenses

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Jimmy Silva Jimmy Silva
CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) -

A new Georgia license is now in effect, but many people may not know about it.

Before the license was made available, it caused some heartache for one Savannah veteran. 

Jimmy Silva served his country first in the Naval Reserve and then active Air Force.

"I had six years, and it was between Korea and Vietnam," he said.

On the actual driver's license card, the Georgia Dept. of Driver Services only acknowledged certain veterans based on combat or where they enlisted.

Silva said he was told that he doesn't qualify for the veterans' designation on his license.

"I thought I served my country and served it proudly, and I couldn't help it if there wasn't a war. I was just fortunate to serve at that time," he said.

Silva wasn't the only veteran who raised the issue. Years later, there's now a solution. 

In mid-April Gov. Nathan Deal signed a series of bills into law at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, GA. At the end of one of those bills, there is a little clause about a change to licenses for veterans, extending existing benefits and discounts to all Georgia veterans. 

It's that little clause that's a big deal for Silva.

"I was glad to serve my country and now I'm being repaid for it after 52 years," he said.

Silva was so excited about the new law that as soon as he learned it had passed, he came to the license branch and waited two and half hours to get his current license changed. He then used it that very same day to receive some of his benefits.

"I know thousands of men and women that served in that time that would love to have a veterans' drivers' license," he said.

Now he just hopes to get the word out so other veterans can be recognized in this very significant way.  

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