Military Service Recognition: Veteran Defined and Designations
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Military Service Recognition: Veteran Defined and Designations

Maryland is committed to recognizing and honoring military service and veteran status.  Understanding how veteran is defined is important when determining eligibility for programs, however some programs vary in their definition.  Find the general definition here, as well as how to request military personnel service records and copies of DD214 documents.  Information on military related license plates and how to acquire veteran status on a driver’s license is also explained.  In recognition of the sacrifice made by our military members, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services maintains a benefit program which awards up to $125,000 to the surviving spouse, children, dependent parents, or estate of a Maryland resident who is killed in action in Afghanistan or its contiguous airspace or Iraq or its contiguous waters or airspace.

Veteran Defined

This is the general definition.  The complete definition can be found in title 38 U.S.C. section 101.

  • A person who served on full time active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, other than active duty for training, and was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • An individual who died while serving on active duty, or was disabled or died from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty while performing active duty for training or inactive duty training.
  • Certain members of a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Certain members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (formerly the Coast and Geodetic Survey) and the regular or reserve Corps of the Public Health Service.

Military Personnel Record Requests

Copies of discharge documents are required to verify eligibility for most benefits and services specific to military veterans.

Discharge documents are required for admission to Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, Maryland’s Veteran Cemeteries Program, U.S. VA claims, and a myriad of other services provided to veterans and their families.

Veterans who meet the following criteria can contact the MDVA Baltimore Regional Office at 800-446-4926, ext. 6450 to inquire if a copy of discharge papers are on file:

  • World War II veterans, who were Maryland residents at the time of entry into the service
  • Veterans discharged from service after October 15, 1979 and who had a Maryland address at the time of discharge

Veterans and their next of kin can also request a copy of a service member’s DD-214, Certificate of Release, or Discharge from Active Duty, from the National Archives.

For information on how to request a copy of military personnel service record visit The National Archives website.

If access to the internet is unavailable, contact the National Archives at:

The National Archives & Records Administration

8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
1-866-272-6272 or 1-86-NARA-NARA
Fax: 301-837-0483
TDD lines for College Park, MD: 301-837-0482

Veteran Designation on Maryland Driver’s Licenses

Maryland residents can now have ‘veteran’ designated on driver’s licenses.  To have this designation placed on a license:

Bring one of the following documents to your local Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) Branch Office:

  • DD214
  • Honorable Discharge Certificate
  • Letter from the Military Records Personnel Center in St. Louis confirming veteran status

If you do not have any one of these documents and you are a veteran with a discharge that is other than dishonorable, you will need to visit your nearest Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) Service Office to obtain a letter verifying your status as a veteran.

To find the location of the MDVA Service Office closest to you, call 800.446.4926 ext. 6450 or visit the Service and Benefits Program post on this site.

Once you obtain the letter verifying veteran status, bring it to your local MVA Branch Office to request the veteran designation on your driver’s license.

For office hours, locations and service information visit the Motor Vehicle Administration website.

Military-Related License Plates

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) offers military-related license plates to veterans.  Eligible vehicles include:

  • Passenger Cars
  • Multi-purpose vehicles
  • Motorcycles
  • Trucks (10,000 lbs or less)

To apply for military related plates, veterans must submit an application for Military Related License Plates (form #VR-120), the application fee ($25) and one of the following:

  • Discharge papers (Form DD-214)
  • Medal Certification
  • Written proof from National Personnel RecordsCenter

For a complete list of available plates and to download the application visit the Motor Vehicle Administration website.

Source: Motor Vehicle Administration

License Plates for Disabled Veterans

Disabled veteran license plates are issued in recognition of a resident’s military service-related injuries. They can only be issued free of charge to a veteran who is rated at 100% disabled or being compensated at the 100% rate based on individual unemployability, permanent and total in nature .  The license plates are printed in two formats: with or without the universal symbol for disability (wheelchair).

Paid DAV plates are considered organization plates.

You can apply for the plates in person at any of the MVA’s full service branch offices.   You can also mail your application to the MVA’s Specialty Tag Unit in the Glen Burnie office, or go to an MVA licensed tag and title service where they will assist you in applying.

Vehicles in the following classes are permitted to display disabled veteran license plates:

  • Passenger car (A)
  • Multi-purpose vehicle (M)
  • Truck with a one ton or less manufacturer’s rate capacity (EPO)

Typically, the application documents needed include:

  • Proof of 100% disability or being compensated at the 100% rate from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Application for Maryland Parking Placard/License Plates for Individuals with a Disability – this form is only required when license plates with the universal symbol for a disability are requested. Be sure to include the vehicle’s information.

For more information on disabled veteran license plates visit the Motor Vehicle Administration website.

Mail applications to:

Specialized Tag Unit
6601 Ritchie Highway
Glen Burnie, MD  21062

To speak with someone regarding disabled veteran license plates call 410-768-7000 (TTY/hearing impaired 301-729-4563)

Source: Motor Vehicle Administration

Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services Survivors Benefit

The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services awards up to $125,000.00 to the surviving spouse, children, dependent parents, or estate of a Maryland resident who is killed in action in Afghanistan or its contiguous airspace or Iraq or its contiguous waters or airspace.

The beneficiary, or individual or agency applying on behalf of the beneficiary, must submit a letter of application to:

John Flynn, Executive Director, Human Resources
Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
Suite 309
6776 Reisterstown Road
Baltimore, MD 21215-2341

To speak with someone regarding this benefit contact the Human Resources Services Division, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, at 410-585-3408

Free Copy of Vital Records

For purposes of a claim before the Federal Government, one copy of marriage licenses, and birth or death certificates, may be acquired free of charge from the appropriate source. Call the local office of the clerk of the Circuit Court (marriage and divorce) or the Bureau of Vital Statistics, 800.832.3277 or 410.764.3038.

A veteran or the veteran’s surviving spouse can obtain one copy of marriage licenses, or birth and death certificates, from the clerk of the Circuit Court and marriage licenses and divorce certificates from the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene – Vital Statistics Division.

There is no fee for:

  • A copy of a certificate of a current or former Armed Forces member that is requested by the member
  • A copy of a certificate of a current or former Armed Forces member or of a surviving spouse or child of the member, if the copy will be used in connection with a claim for a dependent or beneficiary of the member.

Proof of service in the Armed Forces must be provided.

Apply in Person or by Mail:

Birth Certificate Application

Death Certificate Application

Marriage Certificate Application

Divorce Verification Application

NOTE: Fees are not waived on certificates ordered online through the VitalCheck network.

High School Diplomas for WWII and Korean War Veterans

County Boards of Education award high school diplomas to World War II Korean War veterans who withdrew from high school early to enter the Armed Forces. Diplomas are also issued to any veteran upon successful completion of the General Educational Development (GED) test.

For more information contact your local Board of Education.   


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