SPRINGFIELD – In light of a recent letter received by Lake County Vietnam veteran Ray G. Canaday, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) Director L. Tammy Duckworth today announced that the annual free hunting and fishing licenses for disabled veterans issued by IDVA will now be a one-time, permanent issue. The new policy will save disabled veterans throughout the state the inconvenience of a yearly trip to renew their license, which includes transportation costs and time.
“This new policy will make it easier for our veterans to be able to enjoy and experience the natural wonders of our country that they so bravely protected without the extra hassle of having to go reissue it year after year. I want to encourage our veterans to visit their local veteran service office and apply for this free license. And remember, while visiting the veteran service office, veterans can learn about the other state programs and benefits that are available.” IDVA Director L. Tammy Duckworth explained. “The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs is always here and willing to listen to the veterans opinions on ways they feel our services can be improved. I want to thank Ray Canaday for voicing his opinion. This change will make life easier for our fellow comrades.”
Last month, Ray G. Canaday submitted a letter questioning the need for the state’s hunting and fishing licenses for disabled veterans to be issued annually. He cited that for some disabled Illinois veterans, it isn’t that easy to get to a veteran service office. Depending on where the veteran lives, the time spent traveling to renew the license could be up to two hours and results in unnecessary vehicle expenses. Mr. Canday stated that the license was convenient and easy for those veterans who live close to a veteran service office, but if this free license were to be a true benefit for all qualified veterans, the Department needs to change their policy.
Director Duckworth and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs heeded the words of Ray G. Canaday. As of today, the State of Illinois’ free hunting and fishing licenses for disabled veterans will be a one-time issue with no expiration date. At the VFW Post 4600 in McHenry today, Director Duckworth presented Vietnam veteran Ray G. Canaday with a plaque and certificate of appreciation for his letter that sparked the new policy change.
“Though this benefit is a small benefit, it is very important to the veteran community and an entitlement that they deserve,” said Ray G. Canaday.
Eligibility for the free hunting and fishing license remains the same: the veteran must have a service connected disability; be in receipt of a total United States Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA) disability pension; or be in receipt of a military disability retirement pay and can present a letter from the USDVA showing the veteran who would be entitled to VA compensation at a rate of 10% or greater if military pay was waived. Out-of-state disabled veterans are also eligible for the license. Those veterans drawing retirement pay only and have not applied to the USDVA for a service-connected rating, will not be issued a license until after the USDVA has made a service-connected rating.
The veteran must provide disability documentation that is no more than one year old to IDVA during the initial request for the license. Only when the veteran provides proof of the disability or pension benefits, the license will be issued.
Eligible veteran must visit one of the Veteran Service Offices for initial issuance. A full list of the state’s Veteran Service Offices can be found on IDVA’s website at www.state.il.us/agency/dva or by calling 1-800-437-9824.
The state’s 73 Veteran Service Officers help veterans cut through the red tape and bureaucracy associated with applying for and receiving compensation and other benefits from the federal Veterans’ Administration. Their primary job responsibility is assisting in applying for nearly $400 million in federal money that goes unclaimed each year by the 26.4 million veterans across the country, and serve as a liaison between the state and the federal VA.