Veterans fight a bill the Georgia Governor is expected to sign

By Laura Ann Sills - email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  Columbus veterans say they are protecting the youngest generation of soldiers by fighting a bill the Governor is expected to sign into law in the next two weeks.

Georgia law makers say they are giving veterans what they asked for.

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is best described by Columbus veteran, Sam Nelson, "A good mans reaction to a terrible situation."

Governor Sonny Perdue is expected to sign a bill into law that allows veterans who are medically diagnosed with PTSD to have the disorder listed on their driver's license.

Georgia State Senator Seth Harp says the bill got all 'yes' votes, but one, in the house and senate mainly because the general assembly was approached by veterans. Those veterans felt the safety of law enforcement could be better protected with a PTSD notation.

"It is strictly at the request of the veteran. There is no mandate whatsoever that anybody does this; it is strictly a voluntary process. And, second of all it was done at the request of the veterans for their own protection," explained Harp.

Senator Harp says this is how the legislature is supposed to work, action when the public asks.

Local veterans have this to say: the long term unintended consequences were not thought through and they have a job to protect the younger, naive soldiers.

Nelson said, "If you are 20-years-old, just back from Afghanistan, and a little bit messed up to start with, nobody bothers to tell you that if they put PTSD on your driver's license, every time you try to get a job, that is what the personnel manager is going to see."

Others believe veteran discrimination will not stop there.  Paul Rimer described, "When they go to apply for life insurance, health insurance, when they go to apply for a home mortgage, car insurance, or when they go to buy a gun, a legal right protected by the constitution."

The Chattahoochee Valley Veterans Council said they will fight till the end and are asking the Governor to veto the law.

They think a good alternative would be to put PTSD on driving records, so only law enforcement will see it.

We do not yet know how PTSD will be noted on the license if the bill is passed.

We will continue to watch this bill as it comes to the Governor's decision on June 8th.

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