CAPE MAY — City Council has approved a new program to offer free beach tags to active-duty and retired military veterans.

Details of the program, made possible by recent changes to state laws governing beach tags, were announced this week. City Manager Bruce MacLeod said active-duty military can get tags for themselves as well as a spouse, civil-union partner and dependent children. MacLeod said retired veterans can get the free tag only for themselves.

MacLeod said the city has ordered 1,000 of the specifically designed tags.

“That doesn’t mean there is a limit. We can order additional tags as needed,” MacLeod said.

The move was praised at a council meeting Tuesday night, where the program was approved in a unanimous vote.

“Thank you on behalf of 1,000 active-duty members who come to work here every day at the Training Center,” said Capt. Todd Prestidge, commanding officer at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May.

Joe Griffies, a veterans advocate from Middle Township who pushed for the first free beach tag program several years ago in Sea Isle City, also thanked council. Griffies talked about veterans who lost limbs in battle or came home to suffer mental issues from the war-time experience. He said free beach tags are fitting since many veterans left body parts on beaches around the world.

Griffies said the city’s gesture, expected to cost as much as $24,000 in lost beach tag revenue, tells the veterans “somebody cares, and somebody didn’t forget.”

The ordinance setting up the program becomes effective April 15, after which the tags will be available at City Hall or the beach tag office on The Promenade. Military identification will be required. Active-duty personnel already have a military ID. Veterans can show discharge from duty papers, called a DD 214, but Mayor Ed Mahaney said the Cape May County Clerk’s Office also has a program to help veterans get ID cards.

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More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.