California women veterans fighting for recognition with license plate
California is on the verge of having a license plate dedicated specifically to women veterans.
At the moment California does not have a license plate honoring female veterans. The Foundation for Women Warriors is promoting a design they hope will be adopted by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the group's CEO Jodie Grenier said.
“Part of our mission is to honor the service of women veterans,” she said. “There are a number of challenges they face. And we believe a lot of those challenges are that they haven’t received the same recognition as their male counterparts.”
In 2020, women made up more than 17% of the military. But they are still often not recognized as veterans, says Grenier, a Marine vet who served in Iraq.
“There have been numerous instances where a woman parks in a veteran's spot and she is often confronted saying that’s spot’s for a veteran, when in fact, she is the veteran,” she said. “So this is just another way for society to get on board and realize women are serving increasing numbers.”
Being a female veterans can be isolating, contributing to issues like veteran suicide. It can make it harder for women to demand changes in veterans healthcare. In southern California, 60 percent of female veterans face housing instability. The Foundation for Women Warriors provides baby products and basic household goods to both female active duty and veterans.
“It’s hard to find women who served,” Cynthia Taylor, an army veteran and military spouse of a Marine based at Camp Pendleton. “So when we do find one another, usually we cling to one another and use each other as a resource. It’s really hard to find one another, because there is not a great sisterhood or community out there.”
Something as simple as a woman’s veterans decal on a California license plate can help connect women with one another, she said.
The design was created by Jan Kays, a female Vietnam veteran. At least 50 people need to sign up for the plate, before it can be offered by the state. The Foundation for Women Warriors is asking people to sign up at foundationforwomenwarriors.org.