After spending 30 years as a Navy pharmacist, married to a Navy veteran, and raising a daughter who joined the Navy, Roger Hirsh possesses his fair share of Navy pride. Now he’s advocating for the chance to express that pride through his Virginia license plate.
“I go to Dunkin Donuts every morning to meet with some retired military buddies,” Hirsh explained. “There are a couple of Navy, a few Coast Guard, and a few Army retirees. I noticed in the parking lot that there were several cars with Army and Coast Guard plates. But, after a little research, I discovered there isn’t an option to get a Navy plate for your car in Virginia.”
Until now, if Hirsh is successful. For the past six months Hirsh has been working to gain approval for a Navy plate for Virginia drivers. He has worked with the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Navy Trademark Office, and his state legislative sponsor (Del. S. Chris Jones of the 76th District) to advance his efforts. Several steps remain for the license plate to be created.
Military plates require a minimum of 450 paid preorders before the General Assembly will agree to authorize them. As soon as the minimum 450 is reached, the legislative process can begin. When that number is reached, Del. Jones will be able to introduce the bill to the next General Assembly Session, which meets in January. If fewer than 450 orders are received in time for the January session, then the process will be delayed until the following year’s session. The cost of the plate is $25 annually, or $35 if personalized. This is a DMV revenue sharing plate, so Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society will receive $15 of the annual fee (after the initial 1,000 plate sales).
If the bill passes, the governor will sign the bill in March, and it will become law in July. The plate could be on cars and motorcycles driving down Virginia roads by Fall of the year in which it is approved.
For Hirsh, supporting NMCRS with the plate was equally as important as displaying his Navy pride when he drives. “I’ve worked with NMCRS my entire career and I’ve seen them do a lot of very good things for people who honestly needed it,” he said. “The Society ensures that I have my Sailors’ full focus to do their work in the hospital or pharmacy. They’re not sweating because their car needs repair or they don’t have the money to attend a family member’s funeral. It’s just logical to take care of your Sailors and their families and NMCRS does that well. After the initial 1,000 plates are sold, $15 of every purchase will be a donation to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. Buying a Navy plate enables you to show your Navy spirit and help your Shipmates.”
Hirsh launched his career as a Corpsman during the Vietnam era, where he served as a pharmacy technician at Naval Hospital Portsmouth, Virginia. He was stationed in California, Florida, Illinois, and Kuwait before retiring. After a few years as a community pharmacist at a local drugstore, Hirsh returned to Portsmouth Naval Medical Center as a civil service pharmacist, managing the internal pharmacy computer system for three branches of the service in the Hampton Roads region.
“When I’m driving and I see a Navy plate, I will know that someone stood up for the Navy and was able to contribute to NMCRS in the process,” Hirsh said.
*Article updated March 2019 to clarify bill timeline.
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso