FORT BENNING, Ga. - Prior to the signing of the changed Purple Heart license plate bill, HB 732, which went into effect in Georgia on July 1, there was ambiguity in the code section governing "veterans." Active-duty Soldiers who received Purple Hearts were unable to acquire the free Purple Heart license plate. The plate was given only to retired Purple Heart recipients.

Last December, when Staff Sgt. Patrick and Jamie Rains went to get a license plate for their car and inquired about getting a Purple Heart license plate, they were told he did not qualify as a veteran, Jamie said.

"My husband was really upset," Jamie said. "How many other people had been told 'no?' They can't have a Purple Heart license just because they weren't retired? That doesn't make any sense."

Patrick Rains deployed seven times received a Purple Heart in November 2007.

Jamie sent many letters and emails to government leaders, including senators, the Georgia governor and officials in Washington, to let them know her dissatisfaction with state law at the time, she said.

"I told them it was ridiculous and that the law needed to be changed," Jamie Rains said. "I kept sending them letters."

In June, Jamie received a personal email from a legal analyst at the Georgia Department of Revenue informing her of the law change.

One of the many changes to the bill included: "Any citizen and resident of the State of Georgia who has been discharged from the armed forces under conditions other than dishonorable or who is currently serving in the armed forces, who is disabled to any degree specified and enumerated in Code Section 40-2-69, and who is the owner of a private passenger motor vehicle, but who cannot qualify under Code Section 40-2-69, shall be entitled to a special and distinctive automobile license plate."

The section specifically on the Purple Heart license plate was also amended to include active-duty military, stating, "For purposes of this Code section, the term 'veteran' shall include a member of the armed forces or reserves who is still serving on active duty after being awarded the Purple Heart citation."

Upon being notified by his wife about the law change, Patrick said he was elated and it meant a great deal to be recognized for his actions as a Soldier. It also allowed the Family to save money. But most important to the Rains Family, they wanted other Soldiers and Family members to know about it as well.

Page last updated Thu August 16th, 2012 at 16:14