Ask the right question.
Al was frustrated. We were frustrated, even his case manager at MUST was frustrated. The new transitional housing program was due to start April 1 but to get in, Al needed to prove his eligibility and he needed his DD-14. The deadline was just a few days away. It was already March 26. He had his application in for months. He had his request for his DD-14 copy in for months. Nothing was happening. His case manager had even faxed in a copy of the application papers. No response. It looked pretty bleak as nothing was happening at the VA.
No DD-14 on the way and no good reason why. I don’t know the details other than this: Al said he had been conferencing with his case manager on Wednesday and they were both lamenting that nothing seemed to be working. Then Al happened to mention that he has a birthday coming up in a few months and he “needed to get his VA drivers license renewed”. Just a simple off-the-wall comment to pass the time.
The case manager said something like: “WHAT did you just say?!!!… You have a VA drivers license?… Let me see it!” “This is all you need for proof… you are in!”.
It turns out that no one had asked the right question.
You don’t get a veterans driver’s license without a DD-14 and it requires a certificate of eligibility from the VA to get the licence. The existence of the driver’s license was all that has been needed all along. Now Al is going into transitional housing on April 1. It was an alert case manager that finally saved the day. It would have been easy to not notice the remark. None of us trying to help him knew. No one at the VA asked whether he had a veterans driver’s license. Al didn’t know it would suffice. Only the alert case manager caught the significance. Thank you Michael Laird of MUST ministries.
Al once had his separation papers and has since lost them. That happens to homeless veterans a lot. He qualified for his veteran’s drivers license some time ago and has maintained it current.
So much trouble and so much delay for lack of the right question. So if any of you veterans are having trouble getting a copy of your separation papers and you have a veterans drivers license, pull it out! You may have a shortcut!
We have something special planned for Al, but don’t go hinting, as it is a surprise.
PS: This is what the GA DMV says:
Veterans receive a free license until they reach the age of 65. Then they must renew their licenses every five years and are required to pass a vision test each renewal period.
You’ll need to provide a copy of your separation papers, showing your honorable discharge, to your county’s Department of Veterans Service to receive your certificate of eligibility. Present this certificate to your local driver’s license office to receive your free license.”