INDIANAPOLIS — Women veterans are continuing their fight to get their own specialty license plate and funding despite another speed bump in their quest.
More than 40,000 Hoosier women have served in the U.S. military. Even with the all the advances made toward equality, oftentimes their service goes unnoticed.
That's why they are working hard to get a specialty license plate specifically to honor women who have served their country.
"What this plate does, is it gives women veterans the opportunity to celebrate our service and designate ourselves as a veteran, and it also gives us the opportunity to educate the public, said Lisa Wilken, a United States Air Force Veteran. "When people sit at the stop lights, and they travel, they pay attention to those license plates and when they see woman veteran, it just reinforces to them the idea that women proudly serve."
For decades women have been breaking barriers as U.S. service members. Throughout history, women have been on the front lines of wars, playing critical roles.
WRTV first reported in October about a bill being created to create specialty license plates for women veterans here in Indiana, in hopes of joining 18 other states who have already done so.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Mike Speedy, R-Indianapolis, and was supposed to be heard in this year's legislative session. However, late last week, the chairman of the Roads and Transportation Committee, Rep. Jim Pressel, R-Rolling Prairie, informed Speedy he wanted the license plate to go through the administrative process instead.
That’s contrary to what Lisa Wilken said Pressel’s office told her when she started working on this initiative.
“I'm completely disappointed that Chairman Pressel, the chair of the Roads and Transportation Committee, decided at this late date to make that decision, which is something that his staff could have informed us back in September,” Wilken said.
Now, they need to collect 500 signatures by April 1. Wilken is frustrated.
“In the middle of a pandemic, in the winter months in Indiana," she said. "This is something we would have been working on from the follow up until now and it's extremely disappointing that so much work that's going into putting this plate and this legislation together.”
The hurdle, while upsetting for Wilken and so many other Hoosier women, won’t stop them from working to get the specialty plate.
“We have women veterans from Evansville, Terre Haute, Seymour, Bloomington, Gary, Hammond, Fort Wayne, Lafayette that are all working on this legislation,” said Wilken.
Speedy said via text that he would rather the bill not go through the administrative process, but it isn't his decision. Speedy said it is Pressel's call, but he said he is working hard behind the scenes to get the bill in front of lawmakers.
Pressel has not responded to a request for comment.