Friday, October 5

Woman Veteran License Plates

I saw a Florida license plate with the phrase “Woman Veteran” written on it, along with a stylized image of a (presumably female) soldier holding a gun at either sunrise or sunset. Background images of flat land dotted with palm trees and cattails would imply Iraq or Florida rather than Afghanistan or Montana. The plate I saw was interesting to me for several reasons.

I Am Woman

I began by wondering why it was necessary to identify as a woman and a veteran. I suppose people might assume the woman behind the wheel is nothing more than some (male) soldier's special lady. Conversely, a boyfriend or husband driving his wife's car would get undeserved high fives. Sexist or not, when we see the word veteran, we think of a man, similar to when think of kindergarten teachers or nurses as women. I don't think we'll ever see male nurse license plates, but I can dig the reason female vets want their own plates.

One reason I might not want my wife or sister advertising her military service would have to do with those who are up to no good. It might scare these thugs a little bit that the woman behind the wheel fought in the military, but it also announces to the general public that the owner of the vehicle is a woman. It's like driving a Nissan Pulsar back in the 90s. I don't know for sure that bad people always target women, but the only license plate in the state that makes it a possibility is the Woman Veteran plate.

Veterans of Conflict or Military Branch

The Woman Veteran plate is also slightly odd (to me) because we normally associate veterans with a certain conflict or branch of the military rather than gender of the participants. I know, there is a “general” Veteran plate in Florida, but we also have just about every conflict (back to WWII), as well as all the branches (no Space Force yet) and several awards. It’s pretty serious business in Florida to offer all the possible plates for veterans, but that might be quite common. My home state of Wisconsin has “Over 50 different service and/or medal designations.” This includes “Woman Veteran” under each branch, so I guess that designation is also not odd in any way.

Maybe it was just the wording the got me at first. Instead of Vietnam Veteran or Navy Veteran, it was Woman Veteran. Think about that. You are normally a veteran OF something in our common parlance. The wording of Woman Veteran just got my mind to thinking that all married/divorced/dumped men are veterans of women. I imagined adding the court filing title, like “Johnson v Johnson.” Or, if still hitched, “Since 2003.”

In the end, I’m not implying the wording should change or that I have a problem with the license plate. I just made an observation and have an imagination, which led to me writing about what I perceived. I’d also like to point out that the Woman Veteran plate in Florida looks pretty cool compared to the standard waving stars and bars of the more generic Veteran plate, so I might opt for it if I qualified.