Greene County veterans are now able to obtain identification cards detailing their military service at the Register of Deeds office.

The “Thank a Vet” program went into operation on Tuesday and was celebrated with a brief ceremony outside the Greene County Courthouse Annex.

The identification cards provide information about a veteran’s service and awards and can be used as a photo ID card. Veterans who did not retire from the service can use the card at businesses that offer discounts to those who have served in the military.

Greene County Mayor Kevin Morrison said that the ceremony on Tuesday was planned to recognize the start of the program to benefit those who have served in the military, which was also fitting with the commemoration of Veterans Day on Wednesday.

As the community pauses to honor veterans as part of the holiday, Morrison said a verse comes to mind: John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Also speaking during the ceremony was Greeneville Mayor W.T. Daniels, who said the new program and the holiday provide an opportunity to say thank you to veterans for what they have done to protect freedom and the blessings that the nation has received. Both Daniels and Morrison are veterans.

“We are going through some tough times right now, but we will prevail,” he said. “We are going to get through this, and there will be better days ahead.”

VETERAN REQUESTED

The new program came due to an inquiry to Morrison by a veteran. Earlier this year, Morrison explained he was contacted about the program by retired Lt. Col. John Cox, who asked if it could be implemented by the Register of Deeds office locally. The Register of Deeds office is the repository of veterans’ DD 214 forms that represent a complete, verified record of military service including awards and medals received.

In August, the Greene County Commission approved a $5,000 appropriation to acquire the equipment and supplies needed for the Register of Deeds office to administer the “Thank A Vet” program and produce the ID cards.

Cox, who spoke during the ceremony, said his inquiry followed similar questions from local veterans he received about the process of acquiring the card. Cox, who is a former Greene County Commissioner, served 37 years in the military both as an enlisted serviceman and commissioned officer, including Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

As he began to inquire about the card, Cox said, he was informed that it could be obtained online. However, he said that process involved steps and documentation that many veterans might not easily be able to complete or access.

“Veterans are tough,” he said. “They can take apart a machine gun or drive a tank, but they are not as good with paperwork.”

Thus, Cox said he continued to see if there were other methods to obtain the card and was told that it could be acquired through a Veterans Service office. Upon contacting that office, he was then directed to the Washington County Register of Deeds.

After learning that office issued the cards through the “Thank a Vet” program, Cox said he contacted the state about the possibility of providing funding to establish the program in each county’s Register of Deeds office.

When he did not receive much response from that effort, Cox said he then asked Morrison about establishing the program in Greene County.

Cox thanked Register of Deeds Joy Rader Nunnally and her staff for their work to implement and operate the new program as well as the County Commission for providing the funding.

A list of the businesses that offer discounts to veterans is available at the Register of Deeds and currently includes about 20 local establishments. Morrison said the Register of Deeds office staff continues to contact local businesses about offering veteran discounts and more will probably be added in the future.

As part of the ceremony, Greene County Air Force Junior ROTC students retired the American flag being flown at the Annex building and raised a new one in its place.

Daryl Brady, a representative from Congressman Phil Roe’s office, thanked the county officials for implementing the program and presented a flag to Morrison.

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