Ocean County veterans who have been honorably discharged from the military can now obtain a free photo identification card that is designed to help them receive discounts and services offered throughout the county.
County Clerk Scott M. Colabella told the Board of Freeholders on Wednesday that the ID card program, prompted by a law signed in August by Gov. Chris Christie, was launched Sept. 20 quietly, and so far has processed 25 IDs. More than 68,000 veterans live in Ocean County, he said.
"We take tremendous pride in our veterans in Ocean County," said Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little, noting Ocean County has more veterans than any other county in the state.
"With this card, there is no doubt about the holder's status," Little said.
To receive an ID, a veteran must present his or her DD-214 discharge paperwork at the clerk's office in Toms River or at the county's Southern Service Center in Manahawkin. Once presented, the clerk's office records the honorable discharge information and creates the ID card, which includes the veteran's photo, address, branch of service, and notes they were honorably discharged.
"When someone has their official documents recorded (at the clerk's office) it’s for safekeeping," Colabella said. "We're like a safe deposit box."
The ID card, which Colabella said has a patriotic design, will help the veteran prove his or her veteran status for job applications, for veterans' discounts at restaurants, and more, without the need to pull out their discharge paperwork every time, Colabella said. They are not designed to replace the federal veterans identification needed for access to programs at VA hospitals, officials noted.
More than 8,800 veterans have recorded their discharge paperwork with the county, Colabella said, going back decades. The recorded paperwork is invaluable to families after the veteran's death, he said, because they can obtain a certified copy of the honorable discharge record to prove eligibility for funeral benefits and other things, even if they cannot find the original paperwork, Colabella said. There is no charge to get a certified copy of those records, he said.
The main office of the county clerk is located at 118 Washington St., Toms River. The Southern Service Center is at 179 South Main St., Manahawkin.