Vietnam was unpopular at the time and for years afterwards. An airplane mechanic in the war, Warren Sutton now owns an auto repair shop. “When I first came home when I lived in California, I was spit upon.”, says Sutton.
Florida followed our nation’s Capitol, constructing a memorial in 1985 to the nearly two thousand Floridians who died or went missing. But Sutton says many of his war buddies were discarded when they got home. “It’s a lot of guys out there suffering that never had realized they had a problem. They got a problem inside, but no one ever realized it.”, says Sutton.
Now the state is taking another step forward. It has created a Vietnam and Korean Conflict license plate for those who served.
Unlike most Florida license plates, these are free, but there’s a catch. “You do have to submit documentation showing that in fact you did serve in these conflicts.”, says Kirsten Olsen-Doolan, Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Spokesperson.
But getting the plates has taken sixty years for Korean Veterans and forty for those from Vietnam. “Why they were overlooked I have no idea.”, says Rep. Patronis.
State Representative Jimmy Patronis says that a constituent pointed out the oversight last year. “But now we do have a different culture. A different view on how our service members are being treated; and that’s a good thing.”, says Rep. Patronis.
Sutton now believes the change in attitude toward veterans of his era is the presence of so many people who have fought or are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The plates can be ordered at the local tax collectors office or online at http://www.myfloridaspecialtyplate.com/order.html Remember, you will need proof of your service.