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New Mexico’s veteran plates first appeared in the 1980s with relatively few types, but in the years since have evolved into a dizzying array of varieties. These are briefly described below, beginning with the most common one, the widely used “Armed Forces Veteran” plate:

Armed Forces Veteran  Currently this is a more-or-less standardized “Armed Forces Veteran” tag whose serial number has an alpha suffix which identifies the branch of service in which the person served. These are:
                                                   AF  Air Force

CG  Coast Guard
MC  Marine Corps
N     Navy
WV  Woman Veteran (not a separate branch)
Additionally, for the standard Armed Forces Veteran plates there are optional “veteran-designation” stickers (officially called “decals”) which can be placed across the top of the plate, in the sticker box provided for that purpose. Among other things, these stickers show service during a particular era (World War I or World War II, for example), a particular theater of combat (Vietnam, Panama, Afghanistan, etc.), or receipt of a particular award (Bronze Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, and so forth). The applicant must provide supporting documentation in order for the requested sticker to be issued.  Available stickers are these:
Air Force
Air Force Cross
Atomic Veteran
Bataan Survivor
Bronze Star
Coast Guard
Combat Wounded
Desert Storm
Disabled Korea Veteran
Distinguished Flying Cross
Distinguished Service Cross
Iraqi Freedom
Marine Corps
Medal of Honor
Merchant Marine
Navajo Code Talker
Navy Cross
Pearl Harbor Survivor
Silver Star
World War I
World War II
In addition to the standardized Armed Forces Veteran plates, there are the following specialized veteran plates.
   Disabled Veteran  Available to veterans who were at least fifty percent disabled while serving in the armed forces of the United States.
Ex-Prisoner of War  Available to any person, or to the surviving spouse of a deceased person, who was held as a prisoner of war by an enemy of the United States during any armed conflict.
Gold Star Family  Available to the surviving mother, father, step parent or spouse of a service member killed in an armed conflict with an enemy of the United States.
Medal of Honor  Available for any person who has received the Congressional Medal of Honor.  Fewer than a half dozen of these have been issued in New Mexico, though there are numerous Medal of Honor sample plates in circulation, bearing the serial numbers CMH-1 and MOH*1. This special tag is also available as a motorcycle plate (see below).
National Guard  The National Guard plate has been issued in at least three varieties since the 1980s, as follows:
1980s: Yellow background with red numerals.
1990s: Blue background with yellow numerals.
2000s: White-yellow-red background with black numerals.
At present the National Guard plate is available to any person who is an active member of the New Mexico National Guard.
Pearl Harbor Survivor  Available for issue to survivors of the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In addition to those who were in the harbor itself, all persons who were in outlying locations on the island of Oahu (e.g., Hickam Field) and those who were at sea but no more than three miles off shore, are eligible, provided that the applicant was on station during the hours of 7:55 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. Hawaii time that day.
Purple Heart  The Purple Heart plate has gone through at least three design iterations since its inception about 1990, and the current version may be issued for up to two vehicles to any veteran who is a bona fide purple heart medal recipient.   This special tag is also available as a motorcycle plate (see below).
Motorcycle Veteran Plates  A number of types of Armed Forces Veteran plates are also available for motorcycles, but because of their small size the alpha suffix is not used, nor is there space for a veteran-designation decal.
Active Duty. Technically not a “veteran” plate, the Active Duty tag is available to any New Mexico service member who is currently on active duty. There is a one-time initial fee of $27 in addition to the regular registration fees. Upon leaving active duty the plate must be replaced with a regular plate or a standard Veteran plate. Possibly because most New Mexico active duty personnel are likely to be stationed outside of the state, these plates are rarely seen. Application is made on form MVD11267.
Photo credits:  Active Duty Military sample, motorcycle Medal of Honor sample, and motorcycle Purple Heart sample courtesy N.M. MVD. 
All others by Bill Johnston.



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