Indiana Purple Heart License Plates for Spouses

| April 2, 2021

Representative Bill Goodrich of Indiana has proposed a bill to allow spouses of deceased Purple Heart recipients to continue to display the Purple Heart license plate.  Goodrich authored the following article which appeared in The Times of Hamilton County.

Supporting our Purple Heart heroes, spouses

Each year, thousands of brave men and women say goodbye to their loved ones as they sign up to join our nation’s armed forces. Sometimes, these heroes face some of the most difficult and dangerous challenges where their life, along with the lives of others, are on the line. In the legislature, we recognize their sacrifices and continuously work on policies – no matter how big or small – to better support our active service members, veterans and their families.

This year, a surviving military spouse brought to light an issue where she was unable to renew her late husband’s Purple Heart specialty plate due to state law. Currently, Purple Heart recipients can register and obtain several of these specialty license plates, and spouses often display one on their vehicle. However, state law prohibits anyone other than the recipient from obtaining the plate.

I supported House Enrolled Act 1039, which would allow spouses to obtain and display the Purple Heart license plate after their husband or wife passes away. Permitting these Hoosiers to continue to use this specialty plate would not constitute Stolen Valor because the surviving spouse would not be claiming to be a recipient of this honor.

While our veterans make tremendous sacrifices for our freedom, we cannot forget those supporting them from home. Oftentimes, while one spouse is away serving our country, the other is tasked with managing the household or taking care of children, on top of worrying about if their husband or wife will return home. For many of these Purple Heart recipients, they return home with physical injuries or mental health issues that the spouse also endures as they help their loved one through recovery.

These veterans push through some of the most traumatic events to preserve the fundamental values our country holds dear. Their spouses remain by their side throughout their journey. Allowing surviving spouses of Purple Heart recipients to maintain their Purple Heart license plate is a small, simple gesture is the right thing to do. This bill is now eligible for consideration to become law.

If you have any input regarding this legislation or how I can better serve our community, feel free to reach out to my office at

State Rep. Chuck Goodrich (R-Noblesville) represents House District 29, which includes portions of Hamilton County.

I think, on the surface, this is a nice gesture.  I can open itself up to problems that we’ve seen with the son “borrowing” the car and making false claims.  If anything, driving around in the car provides a strong implication that the driver is a Purple Heart recipient.  We have seen this occur.
Putting that aside, it does seem like the right thing to do.  What say you?

Category: Politics, Purple Heart

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I can understand the thought behind this, but am unsure on how I feel about it. While I don’t have a Purple Heart (mine got denied which is a story all to itself) I have been diagnosed with PTS. My wife has stood there by my side helping me through it the entire way. Many States provide the Purple Heart Plate as well as a disabled veterans plate for free, my disabled veteran plate is both free and permanent. Maybe the State could do something like that for the surviving spouse.


I feel the same, except I was not even close to joining that club. My wife has stood by for every single day of my career and I honestly feel the spouse has the harder job. But, did the spouse receive injuries from an enemy? Pretty soon every single distinction we have as veterans will allowed to those that did not would not serve. Kind of the same rhing as getting a trophy for doing nothing.


Smacks of a spouse “wearing” military rank and expecting commensurate privileges to me. If the spouse wants to honor the memory a decal in the window would suffice.
Standing by to receive fire…


Concur 100%.

Standing by, waiting to hear “incoming incoming incoming!”


Do you even know who I am? I demand the respect due our rank!!!!

Dennis - not chevy

When I was a medic, I truly loved it when a patient would announce herself as Mrs Major or Mrs MSgt, or some such. I told my family if they wore my rank, they knew where the recruiter’s office was and they were free to sign up.


Ah, I see you met my late (better late than ever) mother in law. She and her late hubby also won the war (the BIG ONE) in the ETO, too. If you would like to hear more…..?


Shoot! I forgot. It was Mrs. Col……
He would have gotten his star(s) but he just wouldn’t play the game.

A Proud Infidel®™️

I saw it time and time again when Military Spouses would use their Husbands’ Rank in an attempt to put themselves higher up in the pecking order of not only Wives’ clubs but in organizations down range!


In 3ID (1980’s) with the battalion away training in Grafenwöhr for a month, the wife of the Bn Cdr showed up and insisted the S1 clerk stop typing the morning report and type her stack of Officers Wives Club meeting invitation envelopes. As she was saying this, she was jiggling her ear to emphasize “her authoritah!” showing her miniature silver oak leave ear rings.

NCOIC, who was retiring and flying out in 2 days, offered her a chair at the desk with the other IBM Selectric typewriter telling her it wasn’t their job. She left in a huff.


To get a Purple Heard license plate in Indiana, you have to fill out BMV form 32584 which is three forms in one as the form is used to apply for a Disabled Veteran plate, a POW plate and a Purple Heart plate. Same form, just check the appropriate box and send / present documentation.

The recipient – and only the recipient – can park in any legally metered spot without paying and any stay in any legally metered spot for longer than allowed by parking regulations. So the benefits are subject to abuse whether the recipient is living or dead.

Maybe instead of a window sticker, the BMV could issue a sticker to be placed on the license that says “DECEASED” which would allow the spouse to honor the recipient and not be able to get any non-allowed benefits.

Dennis - not chevy

I can support it. When a spouse dies the survivors may be left questioning what else are they going to take.


I can appreciate the gesture, but everyone knows that the plates are to indicate the driver is the recipient. Make Purple Heart spouse plates or something akin to the gold star family plates.


Playing the devil’s advocate here…..

If the car is used to get a prescription from a pharmacy by the spouse while the recipient is living, is that wrong? After all, if (as some have said) the plates are to identify the driver as the recipient, how does allowing a spouse to go to the pharmacy (or drive the recipient to a doctor’s appointment) work?

Would a 16 year old son of a Purple Heart recipient be able to take the car on a date if the plate is only meant for the recipient?

Planet Ord

The plate does not represent the driver. It’s representing that the registered owner is a recipient. The new law would make it legal for the registered owner, who is not a recipient, to have the PH plate assigned to them.


This sounds like a can of worms that’s best left unopened.


^This^ SFC D. Glad I never qualified for a PH or a DAV Tag. Sounds like the Kongress Kritter may have someone with a little influence pushing something to benefit a, comparatively, small handful of people.

As commented above, make a separate plate or some type of decal indicating that status.


Oh yeah. I realize *some* wives have put up with a lot, but they didn’t win the award. Some of the awards are, as we must all admit, BS. Even some of the legitimate awards are for trivial wounds. And as far as I can determine, Purple Hearts are awarded for bad luck, stupidity, or ignorance. We have other medals for heroism and such.

And, much as I may love her, my wife had didly squat to do with any of my ribbons. She may put up with my PTSD sometimes, but she also gives as good as she gets.

IOW, no. It’s a bad idea.


Planet Orb,

Please see Mason’s comment above mine. It is he who postulates that the license indicates the driver is the recipient.

Planet Ord

I read your comment. I’m explaining how the dmv and law enforcement views it. The plate always represents the registered owner, not the driver. That matter has been well settled in case law.

Cops used to use license plates as probable cause to pull a car over if it was revealed the RO had a license suspension or warrant. Courts made it clear that while the plate applies to the driver, it has no bearing on who is actually driving the car.

So there’s nothing wrong with driving a car with PH plates if you are not the recipient, but the recipient owns the car. This law changes things. It makes the registered owner, a non recipient, the owner of PH plates. Spouse or not, they didn’t earn the PH.


Should be the same rules as for a handicapped plate. Can’t park in a HC spot unless you’re the handicapped individual. If you’re not the HC party and you park in a HC spot, that’s misuse of a HC permit/plate. Big fine and can even result in loss of the permit.

Planet Ord

I agree.


Well then, my two cents, I’d better not let one of my kids drive my car because I have MSM plates on it and someone may believe one of my kids earned the MSM not me, if they were driving it.
Then again all hell would break out because one of my kids is 8 and the other about to turn 12 and neither of them have any clue how to drive. SO< I got *THAT* going for me, which is nice.
😀 😀 😀


They give spouses a short time to vacate the on-post quarters of a deceased soldier, right?

No. Neither veteran status, nor rank, nor awards are bestowed upon or pass to the spouse.

Want them for personal use? Enlist.

Do not dilute what service people have earned by passing the honors unearned.

This proposed law is empty feelgood-ism.

They make scores of plates for various “lookatmeeeee!” things, so create a “surviving spouse of serviceperson/vet” plate. That is earned.


Did the spouse actually earn the PH?

There’s your answer.

Green Thumb

If they are widow and were with the serve member when they were wounded (married), I do not have an issue with this.

If they re-marry, no tag.


As sad as it is to add one more thing to the long list of things with which a new widow/er must deal, this might be one of the toughest, at least for some. However, nobody should be driving around displacing stuff they have not earned. Simple as that. Nobody forced this situation upon anyone. It was a choice to get it in the first place. Deal with it when whoever earned it no longer owns the vehicle.

Hang the old plate on the wall if it means that much to whoever survives. Get a bumper sticker to proclaim to the world that your spousal unit earned a Purple Heart.

License plates are getting too much like bumper stickers. There should only be one plate. They should all look alike. “Special” people should get their recognition in other ways.

Now, get off my lawn.


In Kommiefornia, one pays a fee for PH plates on application, then an additional amount every year upon renewal. Hell, for all that money maybe they can add in GCM and the coveted National Defense Medal for a nominal fee with the plate.


In Maine the DAV tags are free.
Good thing too because the reflective coating lasts
about two years before it all peels off leaving a
debossed piece of aluminum that is unreadable from
more than a few feet away.
For some unknown reason it is only the DAV plates that do it.
Replacements are $11 a pair.


Maybe they can furnish fade out Purple Heart plates for posers?