DURANT – In accordance with the Choctaw Nation’s long-standing mission to honor military service members, Choctaw veterans are now eligible to receive special tags for their vehicles.
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“Veterans and their families have made great sacrifices for the freedoms we take for granted,” Chief Gary Batton said. “This is just a small way of showing our Choctaw veterans that we appreciate them, and their sacrifices aren’t going unnoticed.”
The Veteran Tags project was spearheaded by Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr. Austin, who understands the importance of this effort by the tribe.
“Traditionally speaking, we as Choctaws honor veterans, holding them in high esteem. They are seen as warriors or protectors that give so much of themselves for our freedom,” Austin said. “As a veteran myself, I understand our veterans’ sacrifice of time away from their families, friends and homes.”
The idea came to Austin after visiting a tribal facility.
“I was at one of our travel plazas one day,” Austin said. “I saw a veteran getting out of his car, which was parked in one of our designated Veterans Parking spots. I had an opportunity to strike up a conversation with him and had a great time visiting. On my way home, I couldn’t stop thinking about my visit and how he had inspired me. Seeing a car in front of me with our tribal tag, it hit me to research a veteran tag for Choctaw veterans.”
Austin is passionate about this new program and hopes Choctaw veterans will enjoy having these tags as well.
“The tag was important for me to accomplish from an honoring perspective. I hope our veterans are proud of the recognition,” Austin said.
Brent Oakes, Choctaw Community Services Senior Director, assisted in the design of the new tags.
The tag design features the Tvshka Homma (Red Warrior) statue. Also shown are the crossed flags of the Choctaw Nation and United States, symbolizing a merge of the two nations. According to Oakes, the design signifies the strength of Choctaw veterans and their pride of being both Choctaw and American.
Oakes said he feels it is important to show veterans how much their service is appreciated. The Choctaw Nation wants to honor veterans in any way we can, he noted, from establishing preferred Choctaw Veteran parking spots at facilities to giving out Choctaw Veteran jackets. With the new license plates, we are providing them “a way to display their pride of being a Choctaw veteran,” he said.
To Get a Choctaw Veteran Tag
The process and pricing for a Choctaw Veteran Tag is the same as purchasing any tribal tag, with a few added steps. The tags are now available by request through Oklahoma tag agencies. These tags are considered “specialty tags,” so will not be available for same-day pick up. Tags must be ordered in advance to receive them by their tag renewal deadline date.
To receive a Choctaw Veteran Tag the veteran must be an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and provide all of the usual documentation necessary to obtain a car tag. In addition, an applicant must show a tribal membership ID and a military ID or DD214 papers.
Cost of the tag will be the same as the applicant’s regular tribal tag, and a $3 mailing fee also must be paid, according to the Durant Tag Agency. An additional $9 fee is charged if an individual already has their vehicle tagged, but wants to replace it with a new Choctaw Veteran Tag.