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Fleming bill proposes discounted hunting permits for disabled veterans

The Evening News and The Tribune - 1/2/2024

Jan. 2—SOUTHERN INDIANA — State Rep. Rita Fleming is proposing legislation that would increase the affordability of hunting permits for disabled Hoosier veterans.

Fleming, a Democrat from Jeffersonville, has filed a bill proposing discounted licenses from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for disabled veterans.

She was inspired by the reduced fee options offered in Kentucky for disabled veterans, which allows them to apply for a discounted combination hunting and fishing permit.

She is proposing an annual $80 license that would include deer and turkey hunting.

"Indiana has a real unusual system," she said. "We have a hunting /fishing license that's very reasonable — it's $2.75, but it doesn't include deer or turkey, and those are probably the two most popular types of hunting in our area and probably throughout the state."

The fees can add up, and a license that includes hunting for deer, turkey and waterfowl in addition to fishing would add up to $179 a year, Fleming said.

"If you're a disabled veteran on a fixed income, that can be pretty pricey," she said. "Plus there's gear you have to buy — firearms and ammunition or bows and things like that." My bill would offer the disabled veteran — any degree of disability that's been confirmed by [the United States Department of Veterans Affairs] — a combination license that would include all the things I mentioned for $80."

The $80 package for disabled veterans would be in addition to the basic $2.75 fishing/hunting license.

"For example, if someone just wants waterfowl or squirrel or quail, they could still have that [for $2.75]," Fleming said.

She described the benefits of wildlife therapy and outdoor recreation.

"It helps everybody, but particularly veterans, those who have experienced service in the military, and it's particularly helpful for those with PTSD, anxiety [or] depression to be outdoors," she said. "And this is one way to make it more affordable for them and to thank them for serving our country."

Fleming is also a taxidermist who often works with hunters and those who enjoy the outdoors.

In addition, she has many family members who are veterans, and she feels "we need to do whatever we can to support our men and women who served in the military." She also referenced her background in the medical field.

"As a health professional, I'm concerned about their well-being and their ability to adapt to civilian life after some of their experiences that they've had," Fleming said.

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