Originally Published: May 26, 2018 6:04 a.m.
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If you want to display your support for any one of a number of charities or other worthwhile causes, you can pay extra and get a license plate that shows your support for anything from Special Olympics to Route 66.
There are also special Arizona plates for veterans, women veterans, and Purple Heart recipients.
Purchasing an Arizona veteran’s license plate costs an initial $25, and each yearly renewal of those plates also costs, and the majority of the money raised through specialty plates goes to a good cause.
“Of that $25, $17 goes to the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services,” said Doug Nick, spokesman for the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division. “So the money is used to support our veterans.”
Veterans’ Services uses that money to help pay for veteran healthcare, education, cemeteries and veteran homes in Phoenix and Tucson. The $8 that doesn’t go the veterans’ services is used for administrative and production costs.
About $1.4 million was raised last year through money collected via specialty plates. Nick says a similar amount is expected in this fiscal year ending June 30.
“So far, they account for $1.2 million,” Nick said. “We expect it to be well over that at the end of year. This is a very helpful program for veterans.”
Veterans or their immediate family members wanting a specialty plate must be able to prove their veteran’s status. Non-veterans, who want to show their support, can purchase a “freedom plate.” That money also goes to the Department of Veterans’ Services.
But some veterans, and others, would prefer not to pay more to support their own cause.
“The veteran plate should be free for veterans,” said Melissa Wolf of Prescott. “My parents are both vets and they were shocked at the price. Veterans already paid their dues. Make a ‘veteran supporter’ plate for people that want to donate to the veteran cause.”
Lawrence Triantafelo of Prescott — a veteran of the Korean War — said, “Vets should get a break on the vet plates. I just can’t afford the plates or I would have one.”
But not all vets agree.
“I think it is fair, I’m a vet and pay for two plates,” said Jason Wallace of Skull Valley. “The money does go to help fellow vets so I’m all in. Being a vet entitles us to nothing, some of us worked hard and were injured and get disability that we earned.”
Charly Mabry, also of Prescott, said, “I’m a vet and if a veteran wants a plate at a discounted rate, I believe they’re losing sight of what the plate is doing. (It’s) donating almost 70 percent back to the (Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services).”
Nick said, “In the last fiscal year, that (specialty plate) raised $650,000 for those (veterans’) services, and is on track to meet or exceed that for this current fiscal year as well.”
The Arizona Department of Transportation isn’t charging these prices at random, either.
“Those costs are established by state law and arranged by the legislature, and we administer the program and provide the plates,” Nick said.
Veteran plates aren’t the only specialty plates that cost $25; they all do. A Cardinals fan who buys a specialty Cardinals plate will be charged the same amount, $17 again going to charitable organizations. The same can be said for those who get a Northern Arizona University specialty plate, for instance.
“MVD proudly supports our veterans and their families and we are honored to be part of such a worthy and successful program,” Nick said in an email.
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To view all Arizona license plate options, click this link, and then click the radio button that says, "View available plate styles."
Kingman Daily Miner reporter Travis Rains contributed to this story.