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Harvard honors Montco's veterans ID plan

Jessica Parks |

NORRISTOWN The Montgomery County Recorder of Deeds Office's veterans ID program has been deemed a 2015 "Bright Idea in Government" by scholars at Harvard University.

The program offers veterans a free photo ID that carries discounts at more than 400 local businesses. For the county, it's a way to get veterans in the door and record their military-discharge paperwork.

When a veteran receives his or her discharge form, known as a DD-214, "there's a little note on top that says 'Take this and record it at your county,' " said Recorder of Deeds Nancy J. Becker. "But a lot of them don't read it."

Becker said there are about 50,000 veterans living in the county, and about 30,000 of them haven't recorded their paperwork.

Having the discharge on file locally makes it easier upon the veteran's death to arrange for a military funeral and secure benefits.

The program was one of 124 "bright ideas" recognized this year by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard.

Montgomery County wasn't the first to offer a veteran ID, but Becker's idea to attach business discounts provided extra incentive for the veterans and free exposure for the businesses.

Becker said the office has handed out nearly 5,000 IDs since 2012, and about 150 other counties across the United States have launched similar programs.

- Jessica Parks