The campaign for the first woman veteran decal on California license plates launched Thursday.
A female U.S. Air Force veteran from Santa Barbara designed the decal that is being campaigned by Vista-based nonprofit, Foundation for Women Warriors, an organization that empowers women veterans.
“I wanted it to show strength, women and America,” said Jan Kays, Air Force veteran and artist.
After about five designs the Air Force veteran artist found the one.
“Designing something outside of yourself is easy but designing something for yourself is hard because you put a lot of pressure on yourself to get it just right,” said Kays.
Inside an Old Glory star, shaded with the American flag is a silhouette of a female servicemember holding a salute.
“That was the hardest part. What image do I use when it doesn’t say definitely this era and it can be used now these days,” said Kays.
Over her 20-plus-year career, the Vietnam veteran has been recognized by the Air Force for her work.
“I managed to design the first logo for the Air Force,” said Kays.
She underestimated her skills in this mission.
“I was thrilled because I thought it was a shot in the dark to begin with but the fact that it happened just floors me,” said Kays.
Like many women veterans, Jan said she’s felt at times her service has been overlooked.
“If you see a veteran sticker on a car they always say, ‘thanks to your husband for serving’ well no,’” said Kays.
After a veteran friend was upset the state had several veteran decals but not one for women she put pen to paper.
“I kind of started in that I designed something and after I got the procedure from CalVet I thought ‘I need an organization to do this,’” said Kays.
That’s when she reached out to the Foundation for Women Warriors.
“I think a lot of people probably scratched their heads and said, ‘geez, we probably should have done this sooner but glad that we are doing it now,’” said Jodie Grenier, CEO of Foundation for Women Warriors and Marine veteran.
Because of the pandemic, this has been three years in the making but the battle isn’t over yet.
The Foundation worked with CalVet for approval but 50 applications for the $52 decal are needed for the DMV to produce them.
“Women are the fastest-growing segment of the veteran population,” said Grenier. “This is just another way to not only recognize their service but also to have the community recognize women that have served.”
And recognize how women continue to serve their country.
“I am really excited and not so much that it’s my design but that it is available,” said Kays. “I can’t wait to see the first license plate go down the street.”
Once there are 50 applications, it could take 4-6 weeks to make the new plate. To apply for the woman veteran decal go to Foundation for Women Warriors.
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