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Michigan governor Rick Snyder signed legislation into law that will give disabled American veterans access to complementary hunting and fishing licenses, The Oakland Press reported. The law will take effect in March 2013.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced House Bill 5292 last October. The bill will allow veterans who are considered disabled to obtain new, free licenses for hunting and fishing within the state of Michigan.
“Providing free licenses for disabled veterans is just a small token of our deep gratitude for their sacrifice for all of us,” Denise Gruben, manager of licensing and reservations for the DNR, said. “We want veterans to be full participants in outdoor sports. We’re pleased to make these licenses available to qualifying veterans beginning next March under this new law.”
According to The Oakland Press, veterans will need to prove that they are disabled and will need to carry that proof with them whenever they use their new licenses. The law defines a disabled veteran as a resident who has either been labeled permanently and totally disabled as a result of
military service, or is rated by the VA as unemployable. Disabled vets usually enjoy veterans benefits at the 100 percent rate, The Oakland Press added. However, some disabilities are left out – blindness, for example, does not render a veteran disabled, according to U.S. law.
Michigan is known for its many recreational opportunities, and is seen as a destination spot by fishing and hunting enthusiasts across the nation. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Michigan drew about 631,000 out-of-state hunters, wildlife watchers and fishers in 2006. Michigan residents themselves are also avid wildlife enthusiasts: About 5,374,000 Michigan residents hunted, fished and enjoyed wildlife-related activities in 2006.
Michigan enjoys a variety of income boosts thanks to its wildlife-loving culture: The purchase of permits, licenses, stamps, land leasing and other must-haves for sportsmen totaled about $366 million in revenue in 2007.
The new bill hopes to make it easier for veterans to be included in this category. The Department of Veterans Affairs reported that there were 723,368 veterans living in the state of Michigan in 2010. The number of vets receiving disability compensation or pension payments totalled about 80,400 vets. In total, veterans make up about 14 percent of Michigan’s population, according to U.S. Census data.