Saratoga County

New program offering discounts for veterans

The county on Tuesday launched its new “Return the Favor” veterans’ discount program, with 120 busin

The county on Tuesday launched its new “Return the Favor” veterans’ discount program, with 120 businesses across the county offering potential savings to the county’s 18,000 veterans.

“In its simplest form, it is an opportunity for us to say thank you to our veterans,” county Board of Supervisors Chairman Tom Wood, R-Saratoga, said in announcing the start of veterans’ sign-ups at the county Veterans Monument, outside the county offices in Ballston Spa.

Plans for the program were announced in January. County officials have spent the past six months signing up businesses to offer discounts. They didn’t want to start the program until at least 100 businesses had agreed to participate.

The county clerk’s office, meanwhile, has been establishing a process for issuing a new photo identification card to veterans, which they can present to participating businesses to receive a discount.

“Many people don’t know it, but there is no such thing as a state or national veterans ID card,” said Andrew Davis, the county’s director of veterans services.

The county clerk’s office will be making the free identification cards for people who show they are eligible by presenting a copy of their DD-214, the form certifying they were honorably discharged from the military.

Participating businesses range from restaurants to building supply companies to attorneys. Retail discounts are generally in the 10 percent to 20 percent range, while some other businesses, like banks, are offering free check orders or gift cards to new customers.

“It seemed like a no-brainer,” said David K. Tomney, a Clifton Park attorney and title abstractor who signed up after hearing a presentation to the Shenendehowa Rotary Club.

Tomney said he had an uncle who fought in Korea and other relatives who have served in the military.

A new information and help desk for veterans has been set up in the building lobby outside the county clerk’s office in Ballston Spa because of the influx of veterans who are expected to seek the ID card. The desk will be in place for at least a couple of weeks, said County Clerk Kathy Marchione.

Applications will be taken from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Also, on the next two Saturdays, July 9 and 16, the clerk’s office will be open from 9 a.m. to noon to take applications.

Veterans will need their original DD-214. But Davis said his office can help people who can’t locate their DD-214, though getting another copy can take several weeks.

Marchione said the idea of coordinating a new veterans discount program first emerged in Rockland County and has since been taken up by other counties. The clerk’s office plays a central role because it can keep each veteran’s DD-214 form on file. The record will remain confidential.

Davis said the record will also allow his office to help more veterans. Currently, veterans or family members sometimes don’t come to his office until there’s a crisis and they need benefits, Davis said.

County Veterans Committee Chairwoman Mary Ann Johnson said Return the Favor is just one of several programs the county offers to veterans. “Today’s economic climate is taking a toll on everyone, and we are glad to be able to offer this assistance to our veterans,” she said.

Veterans will be given a list of participating businesses when they register. The list is expected to grow over time, so updates will be posted on the county website, at

“The response to this initiative has been gratifying, and we expect many more businesses to sign up as the program continues,” Marchione said.

Categories: Business

Leave a Reply