CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a program meant to help military veterans in Chicago save money on city vehicle stickers, but CBS 2 Morning Insider Vince Gerasole found that might not be the case.
From the Middle East to Bosnia, Navy Intelligence veteran Jerry Maher is no stranger to war.
“I always considered it an honor and a privilege to have served,” he said.
However, he’s currently in a battle with the city of Chicago.
“All the bureaucratic mediocrity; cut the mediocrity,” he said.
The Chicago City Clerk’s office has promoted a program to provide free city vehicle stickers for veterans, waiving the $87.82 fee for passenger cars and $139.48 fee for larger passenger vehicles.
“There is a big but,” Maher said.
Notices posted on the windows at the clerk’s offices notify drivers they will only accept an Illinois driver’s license or ID car with a veteran’s designation as proof to qualify for the free stickers. Maher said he believes most veterans don’t know they can request that designation on their license or state ID.
“Why would you do that?” he asked.
Maher said most veterans carry federal IDs to indicate their status. When he showed up to renew his city sticker with his driver’s license, his Department of Defense military retirement ID, and his Veterans Administration medical entitlement card, the clerk’s office turned him down.
“He said that’s not good enough. None of these apply. They’re not acceptable,” Maher said.
Not even his state-issued veteran’s license plate, with the Navy seal emblazoned on the left side, was sufficient proof of his status as a veteran.
“Even on my city sticker it shows that Navy veteran plate. So how does one get that if one is not a veteran?” he said.
City Clerk Anna Valencia’s office said the fee waiver for veterans is part of a pilot program trial, and is still being adjusted. Maher had a suggestion for how to improve it.
“At the end of the day, they need to open this up, and accept any veteran who has the proper identification,” he said.
The clerk’s office said it worked closely with the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and the City Council Veteran Caucus to help identify veterans who might qualify. The state said there are roughly 104,000 drivers with a veterans’ declaration on their license.