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TENNESSEE HONORS ITS WOMEN VETERANS WITH SPECIALTY LICENSE PLATE—NOW AVAILABLE!!!

My name is Laura Comas, and I am a life member of Women Veterans of America Chapter 20 and a founding member of the East Tennessee Women Veterans Network.  I served in the Army and also in the Tennessee Army National Guard. 

About four years ago, I became motivated to get a veteran’s license plate. I discovered that out of the nearly 20 veteran plates available at the time, there were none for women veterans. Women have been honorably serving our Nation’s military since the Revolutionary War with little recognition for our contributions, so I thought it was time we had our own license plate.

 

I learned there are two types of Specialty Plates the state is willing to provide, one that benefits a specific organization and the other that does not. The first option would require a concerted effort at finding one thousand women veterans willing to commit to purchasing a plate, collecting a check for $35.00 from each, and a firm commitment that the plate would be paid for year after year by at least one thousand women. This, before one can even approach the Legislature.

 

The upside to this option is that the organization earns a percentage of the additional annual fee paid to the state. An example of a very successful Specialty Plate would be the Friends of the Smokies, earning thousands of dollars each year for that organization. Choosing which women veterans organization would benefit from the plate was not something I wanted to do, so I opted for the other type of plate.

 

I then contacted Tennessee Senators Doug Overbey and Tim Burchett, who were very pleased to sponsor a bill authorizing a license plate for women veterans in Tennessee .  They filed Tennessee Bill # HB1616 / SB1941, on February 14, 2007.

 

This bill was overwhelmingly supported, with every woman Representative and Senator signing on as co-sponsors. The Bill became law in June 2007. As a women veteran, I am grateful to Sen. Overbey and Sen. Burchett for their interest in recognizing those women who have served our state and our country.

In the spring of 2007, I had the honor to stand before the House to be recognized. I gathered several women veterans to join me, including Tennessee State Commander of the Women Veterans of America, Corina Collins, and members of the Women Veterans Network. A standing ovation honored us. On this page, you can see some photos from this gathering at the State Capitol.

 

The next step was to design the plate. I approached East TN graphic artist and military historian, Tom Walker, to design the plate. We worked for quite some time to find a design that would salute all women in all conflicts throughout our Nation’s history.

 

Mr. Walker, designer of “Faith and Courage” a Tribute to US Military Chaplains displayed at the TN Museum of Aviation in Sevierville, designed the plate to honor Molly Pitcher.

 

Because she was one of the first known woman honored for taking up arms in defense in the U.S. Revolutionary War and Tennessee is the first State in the Union to pass a Law commemorating women veterans with their own distinguishable license plate, Tom said who better to decorate that plate than Molly Pitcher?

 

It was at this point I learned a valuable lesson. It is important to put the correct wording on the license plate and that wording must reflect the exact wording in the law. This is when I had to initiate an amendment to the law that was passed to accurately reflect the intention of the plate. 

 

That is the reason for the delay in the availability of the plate since the original passage of the law for the plate to be created.  Since Tennessee passed this law in the summer of 2007, West Virginia has also honored its women veterans with a plate. In 2005, Kentucky entitled its women veterans to distinguish themselves with a red sticker reading “Woman Veteran” placed onto their existing veteran plates.

 

Thankfully, the Tennessee plates are now available, as you can see from the photos on this page!!!  As a woman veteran, simply take your current plate and your DD-214 to your County Clerk ’s Office to exchange plates, pay a pro-rated registration fee for 2009 and become among the first in the country to celebrate your service to our state and country with a Tennessee Woman Veteran License Plate.

 

Thanks for sharing in this reward with me.

 

 Laura Comas

Past WVA National Chaplain

WVA Chapter 20

As shown here by WVA Chapter 20 and National Adjutant Robin Blanchard, 

the Woman Veteran plates are also available for motorcycles. 

For contact information and locations of ALL county clerks in the state of Tennessee , visit this website:  http://state.tn.us/revenue/vehicle/countyclerks.htm

 

 

 

JOIN WOMEN VETERANS ACROSS THE STATE AND PROUDLY DISPLAY YOUR PLATES HERE!!

 

Take a photo of you and your new Woman Veteran plate and email it to wvachapter20@gmail.com and we’ll be happy to post it here for all to see and admire.

 

 

WVA Chapter 20 Vice-Commander Stacey Hopwood and Commander Mary Ross show off their brand new tags.

East Tennessee Women Veterans Network member Ruth Moore proudly points out license number 10!