New Jersey--Veterans for American Ideals-NY/NJ (“VFAI-NY/NJ”) is proud to be a longstanding partner of the Let’s Drive NJ campaign, and continues to support its call for an expansion of qualified residents’ access to driver’s licenses. VFAI-NY/NJ members are veterans who remain committed to the democratic principles to which they once pledged their service. These former members of the U.S. armed forces, whose collective service spans multiple conflicts across several decades, believe that America is strongest when it upholds its values and welcomes refugees and allies that seek to build a better life on these shores.
The efforts of the Let’s Drive NJ campaign are essential to ensuring New Jersey is such a welcoming place. VFAI-NY/NJ continues to advocate for laws and policies that ensure refugees and other vulnerable populations, including fellow veterans, have the capacity to fully participate in local economies, civic life, and the success of Garden State communities. In New Jersey, a state where driving is a necessity, too many residents are limited in their mobility because of unnecessary barriers to getting a driver’s license.
“Opportunities to develop purchasing power, engage in civil society, and even care for the health and wellness of one’s family can all be constrained by whether one has access to a driver’s license,” said Dr. Troy Mack, co-chair of VFAI-NY/NJ, former Army Chaplain, and Iraq War veteran. “For newly arriving refugees, like those veterans seeking to transition to civilian life after military service or service-connected financial and medical hardship, a driver's license is required in order to become self-sufficient and contributing members of our community.”
The Let’s Drive NJ campaign has noted the importance of expanding driver’s license access to a broader range of residents. The current law regulating access to New Jersey driver’s licenses, with its narrow system for determining eligibility, results in the unnecessary denial of thousands of New Jersey’s most vulnerable. This can and often does include refugees, financially disadvantaged veterans, low-income and homeless individuals, the formerly incarcerated, undocumented immigrants, and survivors of violence.
Beyond VFAI-NY/NJ’s fellow veterans, this campaign’s efforts would also aid those U.S. allies who sacrificed bravely alongside the U.S. military; risked their lives to help U.S. forces succeed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere; and were forced to leave their countries due to their service on behalf of the U.S. Now resettled in the Garden State via the Special Immigration Visa (“SIV”) program, these U.S. allies would also benefit from the Let’s Drive NJ campaign’s proposals.
VFAI-NY/NJ therefore supports decreasing barriers to driver’s licenses, in the responsible, secure, and sustainable ways proposed by the Let’s Drive NJ campaign. This will lead to more drivers being competently tested and trained to drive safely on New Jersey’s roads. In turn, such will improve the Garden State’s capacity to be a place where all who contribute to their communities are able to live, work, and care for their families with dignity.
To correct unintended consequences in the current law, and ensure refugees and other vulnerable communities’ members have the opportunity to thrive, VFAI-NY/NJ endorses the Let’s Drive NJ campaign’s call for improving access to driver’s licenses. VFAI-NY/NJ hopes to see a legislative remedy that addresses this issue swiftly signed into law.
For more information or additional comment, please contact Dr. Mack at mackT@humanrightsfirst.org.