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Newly-passed legislation in Georgia would permit a veteran’s PTSD diagnosis to be indicated on their driver’s license. But is this really a good idea?
Senator Ron Ramsey, a co-sponsor of the bill, believes that the new legislation will better-protect law enforcement and other veterans. “If a veteran suffering from PTSD was pulled over for a simple traffic violation, a designation on the license explaining the circumstances could inform an officer that the situation should be handled cautiously,” said a statement released by Sen. Ramsey to FoxNews.com.
He goes on to say that labeling one’s driver’s license with a PTSD diagnosis is “completely voluntary.”
“If a veteran does not feel it is necessary…then they do not have to,” Sen. Ramsey said.
Veterans who spoke with FoxNews.com called the legislation a “terrible idea,” and the majority are worried that labeling veterans with PTSD will promote discrimination, not only from law enforcement officers, but from anyone who checks a person’s identification, including bouncers at bars and employees at liquor stores.
“If they saw that a customer suffered from a mental illness, [they] could easily refuse service,” believes Ryan Gallucci, of AMVETS. “We already see enough negatives in how the public perceives today’s veterans when it comes to mental health.”
Gallucci also noted that all people – not just vets – have the opportunity to share pertinent medical conditions like PTSD with law enforcement or judges. Instead of labeling driver’s licenses, Gallucci and AMVETS suggest setting up special veteran’s courts across the country where veteran law cases would be handled “within the unique context of their experiences.”
Another veteran advocate, Marvin Myers, who is also president of the Georgia Vietnam Veterans Alliance, Inc., told FoxNews.com that he too is worried that labeling veterans with a mental condition will lead to an increase in public discrimination.
“What happens if Jerry Smith has PTSD on his driver’s license and he goes into a gun store? The clerk is going to say ‘Oh no, I’m not selling you that gun,’” Myers said.
“You’re disclosing too much of yourself,” Myers believes.
On the other hand, there is the argument that labeling one’s driver’s license with their mental condition may promote better relations between law enforcement and a veteran during a traffic stop, for example. A police officer who may have reacted one way initially may be able to adjust the way he interacts with the veteran they just pulled over for speeding if he sees that the vet suffers from PTSD.
A spokesman for the Georgia State Patrol is confident that passing this legislation would be a good thing. For one, it would provide additional information to law enforcement officers, who would then be better-equipped to handle any situation. The spokesman, Gordy Wright, calls the bill “a positive step for a positive outcome.”
And, of course, the Georgia State Patrol insists that an indication of PTSD on a license would not grant the veteran any leniency when it came to the law.
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