CHATHAM — Cook County officials are encouraging major retailers to offer discounts to local veterans through a new shopping card.
Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore (4th), whose district includes Chatham, recently sponsored a resolution that would create a shopping card for veterans who are Cook County residents. While the county will coordinate the program and issue the cards, officials still must recruit businesses to take part in the program.
“The brave men and women of our military deserve our gratitude and appreciation," Moore said. "This initiative will help connect them to businesses that choose to honor their military service through special discounts and promotions."
One veteran — Walter Whitman, 80, who retired from the Air Force in 1976 after 27 years — welcomes the program.
"I served my country proud and for that I should get all the fruits life has to offer a person," said Whitman, of Grand Crossing. "So if I need medical care, I should have it. If I need food, I should have it. There should be no limit on services available to veterans."
The cards will go into effect starting Veteran's Day, Nov. 11, Moore said. Active-military personnel can sign up for a discount card by calling the Veterans Service Office at the Cook County Recorder's of Deeds Office at 312-603-5788.
Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough's office will seek out retailers to participate in the discount program. Her office will use military records to confirm a veteran's status and will cover the cost of producing the cards.
“We are excited to add this new service to our efforts to honor and serve our veterans and active-duty military personnel," she said.
Moore hopes it will be easier to convince businesses to offer discounts than the effort he has to put in to help servicemen get other benefits.
"You'd be surprised how much red tape I have to go through to help a veteran who might need assistance with housing or something," Moore said. "These are individuals who risked their lives to make America a better place for us to live, but when they need help society forgets about the sacrifices they made on our behalf."
The buying power of veterans is often underestimated, said Moore.
“Another important aspect of the discount card program is the expectation that business owners will enjoy increased traffic and sales in their stores,” Moore said. "Many stores across Cook County already offer discounts to veterans and those currently serving in the military. The initiative is designed to standardize this practice and also recruit additional merchants that agree to accept the cards."
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