New Laws for Veterans


Happy Independence Day!

That’s right, I’m saying it early.  Today we’re going to talk about some new laws that apply to Veterans so maybe you can pass on some knowledge when you see a Veteran this holiday weekend.

Please note that all of these bills have been signed into law by Governor Perry and all of these new laws will be effective on September 1, 2011.

Veteran Driver’s License

Veterans can have a designation (“VETERAN”) included on their driver’s license.  Why would we want it?  Who knows, but maybe it will get us out of a speeding ticket?

—See H.B. 1514 & Designator on License Issued to Veteran–Tex. Transp. Code §521.1235

A Veteran means a person that has served in one of the five branches of service, (if you’re lost, the fifth is Coast Guard), or the Texas National Guard, and been honorably discharged.  All that is required is a request by the Veteran, and proof of service and honorable discharge.

Airborne Specialty License Plate

This one affects me directly, and I don’t know if I like it, but the “Airborne Parachutist” license plate will now read “U.S. Paratrooper” instead.  However, it will still have the Army Airborne Wings.

—See S.B. 461 & United States Paratroopers–Tex. Transp. Code §504.307

Bronze Star Specialty License Plate

The legislature has created new specialty license plates for recipients of the Bronze Star and Bronze Star with Valor.  It will have a picture of the medal emblem and a “V” for those with valor.

—See H.B. 559 & Military Specialty License Plates for Extraordinary Service–Tex. Transp. Code §504.315

Funeral Service Disruption

This one isn’t only for Veterans, but it sure seems to apply to Veterans more and more lately. (See Westboro Baptist Church)

A person commits an offense by picketing within 1,000 feet of a facility or cemetery being used for funeral service and within 3 hours before or 3 hours after the service.  This is a change in the law that previously provided a 1-hour buffer.

—See H.B. 718 & Funeral Service Disruptions–Tex. Penal Code §42.055

Mandatory Selective Service Registration

This change really applies to future Veterans, God help us if we have to turn to a draft again, but it makes Selective Service Registration mandatory, instead of optional, when getting a driver’s license or ID card.

—See S.B. 132; & Registration with Selective Service System–Tex. Transp. Code §521.147

It appears that if you apply for an original, renewal, or duplicate driver’s license or personal identification card, and you are between the age of 18 and 26, then your information will automatically be submitted to the U.S. Selective Service System for registration. (Expect to see statutory notice language on your paperwork this Fall.)

How to Thank a Veteran

By nature, we Veterans are modest and do not easily take praise or recognition.  This holiday, you will no doubt shake a Veteran’s hand and tell him/her how proud you are, but be prepared for an embarrassed look in their eye and something about how they were just doing their duty.

We really do appreciate your praise, but we sometimes have a hard time showing our appreciation of your kind words.  A simple handshake, pat on the back, or “thank you,” is enough to show your support, and turn our cheeks red.

–Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,

 Matthew Harris Law, PLLC  – Civil Litigation Division

1001 Main Street, Suite 200, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3309

Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479

[email protected]