9 Investigates helps veteran get REAL ID

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — “A lot of barriers have been removed from my life,” Alan McNamee said, after 9 Investigates helped him get an ID after years of struggles to comply with the REAL ID Act.

After 9 Investigates exposed the difficulties this local veteran was having getting a new ID under the REAL ID Act, he was finally able to get that precious piece of plastic; but there are still many other people right here in our community facing similar problems complying with the federal law.

Though most people dread going to the DMV, Alan McNamee has a newfound appreciation for one in Kissimmee.

Real ID: Vet who can’t get driver’s license turns to Channel 9 for help

“Well, I’ve got my ID now, after 7 years and 10 months of trying, so that’s a major upgrade in my life,” McNamee said.

McNamee’s name was unofficially changed when he was a toddler after his mother remarried, and until our story, even his military paperwork justifying why his name didn’t match his birth records wasn’t enough to get officials to push his claim through.

He credits a tenacious employee within the Osceola County Tax Collector’s office for finally getting the state approval needed for his non-driver ID, but he’s far from alone in the fight to comply with federal law.

READ: US extends ‘Real ID’ deadline to May 2023

“Unfortunately, it’s not extremely uncommon,” IDignity Program Director Danielle Landaal said. “We encounter a lot of individuals where the names don’t match, and they had no idea.”

Orlando-based IDignity helps people obtain IDs, including birth certificates, social security cards, immigration documents, and more. Program Director Danielle Landaal says about 50% of the clients they’re helping now, are facing challenges with the federal REAL ID Act.

The law, passed post-9/11 to set a nationwide standard for identification, requires four pieces of information in order to get a REAL ID: a passport or birth certificate, social security card or tax return, and two documents providing proof of residence.

WATCH: Vet who can’t get driver’s license turns to Channel 9 for help

A pre-COVID report from the US Travel Association found an estimated 99-million Americans, almost 40%, did not have any form of identification that would be accepted in a REAL ID’s place.

“You move to a different state, you have your old ID, and you realize you need your birth certificate, and you don’t have it,” Landaal said. “They just don’t have the supporting documents necessary to get the ID.”

The deadline to become REAL ID compliant was just pushed back again to May of 2023, but if you don’t have the documents you need, experts say you should start the process now. For help: https://idignity.org/

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Karla Ray

Karla Ray, WFTV.com

Karla Ray anchors Eyewitness News This Morning on Saturday and Sundays, and is an investigative reporter for the 9 Investigates unit.