Bill aims to stop veteran impersonators, create awareness for ‘valor fraud’

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INDIANAPOLIS – A state lawmaker is hoping his bill will prevent impersonators from taking advantage of benefits and discounts offered to U.S. veterans.

Republican State Sen. Carlin Yoder  is introducing a bill next week that will expand the state’s current veteran designation program to include active military members and create more awareness about valor fraud.

Currently, Hoosier veterans can go to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and receive a special designation on the back of their driver’s license that proves they are a veteran. That can be shown and accepted at VA Hospitals, stores and restaurants. Only about 11,000 of the half million Hoosiers have signed up for the designation.

“Apparently there’s a growing number of individuals who pretend to be veterans,” said Yoder. “What my bill does is, first, bring naval individuals into the process… and allow them to have that notification. And then also allow current members of the military of all aspects of it be allowed to have that indication on their license as well.”

According to Yoder, the designation would be free for veterans. However, a spokesman for the BMV said there would be a cost to the department.

“The BMV estimates that it’ll be about $50,000 to make sure that we can get this program through,” said BMV Deputy Commissioner of Communications Josh Gillespie.

Zach McIlwain with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America served two tours in Iraq and hopes the bill passes.

“Our fear is that if these people are going to continue committing fraud and continue to do these types of things that these businesses, these vendors are going to withdraw because of the abuse that takes place because of the cost to them,” he explained.

“I think it`s just another thing we can do for veterans and current members to simplify their lives a little bit and allow them to be proud about what they do,” said Yoder.

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