VIRGINIA - Virginia drivers now have a new option when it comes to their license plates.
Governor Glenn Youngkin signed SB 212 into law, authorizing special Navy license plates after the bill received a unanimous yes from the house of delegates and the state senate.
"We want our military and our Veterans to stay in Virginia," said the governor. "What a great way for our military and our veterans to acknowledge their service and for all of us to see that they have served. This was a pro-veteran, pro-military bill and I was so happy to sign it."
SB 212 also creates the Navy-Marine Corp Relief Society Fund, which sets aside a portion of every plate purchase to be donated to the Navy-Marine Corp Relief Society.
Roger Hirsh, the creator and DMV state sponsor for the U.S. Navy license plate, says the fund is just as important as the plates themselves.
Hirsh, a retired Captain in the US Navy, remembers when he and his wife were all alone in San Diego during the birth of their first daughter.
He says the Navy-Marine Corp Relief Society sent a nurse to their home on several occasions.
"It was like a friend we didn't know we had," explained Hirsh. "The visiting nurse came by to check on [my wife], asked if we had any questions, if she was healing okay, any questions about taking care of the baby and that sort of stuff...it was wonderful."
Decades later, Hirsh would start a 5-year passion project to make sure every Navy family had enough food on the table and gas in their car through license plates.
"It needed to be done," he said. "We have a lot of Navy in Virginia and I think they should be able to be appreciated on the roads like the other services."
Each plate costs $25, with $15 being donated to NMCRS.
In 2021, NMCRS Navy Marine Corp Relief Society gave $29.5 million to military families and retirees.
NMCRS helps service members with food, education, gas, car troubles, and more.
They say Hampton Roads is one of their two most serviced areas of the country.
"The number one reason people come to us are basic living expenses," said Gillian Gonzalez, the vice president and chief development and communication officer for the Navy-Marine Corp Relief Society. "To a young sailor or young marine, that's got to fill up hat gas tank, it might be the choice between filling up that gas tank or buying some food."
Hirsh says he's totaling over 500 preorders and expects that number to hit the thousands over the next few years.
"I'm looking to see many more plates sold and knowing that every pate that's out there on the road is helping support our Navy-Marine Corp families," he said.
Hirsh was also a Navy Mustang, Seaman Recruit, Hospital Corpsman, and retired as a Pharmacy Officer and Captain.
His wife was a Navy Hospital Corpsman and his daughter was a Navy Pharmacy Officer.
The last day to preorder the plates is Friday, April 15th.
The DMV is will start selling the license plates online when the bill is officially enacted on July 1st.