When Loren Snippe decided to do some home remodeling, he received more than his needed supplies from a home improvement retailer. He also received a 10% discount and a “thank you” for serving in the military.
“A 10% discount doesn’t amount to much, but their heart is in the right place,” Snippe says of the money off he received from Home Depot.
Snippe, who served a six-year stint with the Army National Guard and is a veterans counselor for the Ottawa County Department of Veterans Affairs, says other veterans also can receive discounts from Lakeshore businesses, thanks to the Honor Rewards program offered by the Ottawa County Clerk’s Office. The county’s vital records management software provider, Fidlar Technologies, created the program as a no-charge service.
Scratching the surface
Launched in the county in 2015, the nationwide program has mushroomed to more than 350 participating Ottawa County businesses ranging from auto, travel, and financial services to home and lawn care, real estate, and restaurants. It also includes Georgetown Township Public Library waiving all overdue fees for veterans, according to Kathryn “Katie” Sims, Ottawa County elections coordinator. Most, but not all, are based in the Lakeshore area. Here’s the complete list.
Sims believes the county has only scratched the surface in finding the veterans who qualify for the Honor Rewards program.
One way they’ll expand their outreach is through an in-person Honor Rewards Veteran Expo slated for June 4, 2022, at the Grand Haven Community Center. The free event will include veteran speakers; advice from federal, state, and local veteran organizations; and Honor Rewards business partners.
“We’ve partnered with local VFW and Legion Halls just trying to get the word out,” says Sims.
So far, more than 500 veterans in the county have signed up to receive the free Honor Rewards program ID card. They need only to show their discharge papers or present their driver’s license with “veteran” printed on it to qualify for the discounts. Snippe adds some businesses, like Lowe’s and Home Depot, also accept discharge papers or the “veteran” designation printed on their Michigan driver’s license in place of the ID card.
Matt and Kari Murphy
The discount percentage varies from business to business. Lakeside Automotive Group in Spring Lake, for example, offers $500 off repairs; Custom Service Printers in Muskegon offers 20% off services; and Massage Sci in Holland takes $50 off veterans’ first massage treatment visit.
Close to home
For some business owners, the reason they participate in the program hits close to home.
Linda Kaiser, owner-operator of Holland Tasting Tours, says the reason she gives veterans a 10% discount on tour tickets goes back to when her parents immigrated to the United States. Today, it goes deeper than that.
“My parents were both born in the Netherlands,” says Kaiser. “I remember as a child helping my mom study for the citizenship test. It made me appreciate the advantage of being born as an American.
“My support for the Honor Rewards program stems from my heart of gratitude for the men and women in military service and their willingness to sacrifice for the rest of us,” adds Kaiser. “I've seen that in my sister, who is an Army veteran, and my son, who is currently active-duty Air Force.”
The discounts are nice, says Snippe, but the program stretches beyond its intent, especially in this age of an all-volunteer military.
“It does build awareness that there are veterans out there,” he says. “It creates awareness, and it’s good from that standpoint as well.”
Matt Murphy, who co-owns Murphy’s Family Restaurant in Allendale with his wife, Kari, says the Honor Rewards discount is just one way to show veterans respect.
“They deserve the respect and some sort of benefits for doing what they’ve done,” says Murphy, whose restaurant gives 10% off an entire meal with a minimum purchase of $5. “We want to honor those who’ve gone before us and given us freedom.”