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Across Montana, specialty license plates now include one that supports the Veterans Monument in Hamilton and veterans in need.

Al Sperry, a key organizer and designer of the Hamilton monument, worked with Vietnam Veterans Group 938 to establish the monument but had to change to a 501c3 nonprofit to get the license plates.

“You can’t get a license plate under anything but a nonprofit,” Sperry said. “When I did the paperwork I set it up to support the monument and veterans in need. The monument will have the capacity to give grants to veterans’ groups to help veterans.”

The funding from the plates will support the upkeep of the Veterans Monument – flags, maintenance and grounds-keeping (lawn care).

The rest of the funds will be put to good use.

“The Vietnam Veterans Group 938 doesn’t have a lot of money,” Sperry said. “If they need money and if the Veterans Monument has the money they can request it. The board of directors will look at the requests and decide which ones to approve and for how much.”

Sperry said the funding of veterans groups keep shrinking and the members are getting older and “wore out.”

“I was thinking of a way to generate money so we don’t have to work so hard,” he said. “We do all kinds of help for veterans. If we’ve got a homeless vet, we will put him up in a hotel, we help with electricity payments and we help veterans with food vouchers and gas vouchers. If a veteran needs help we help them, it all adds up to a lot of money.”

According to the website, special license plates allows a portion of the tag renewals each year to go to the charity, foundation or agency sponsoring the license plate in addition to the regular registration renewal fees.

Anyone can select the black and white plate Sperry designed with POW/MIA logo and the words duty, honor and country.

“It is not a veterans’ plate – it is a plate to support veterans,” Sperry said.

The plates came out July 31 and can be ordered.

“They are not distributed all over the state yet but it won’t take long,” Sperry said. “Once they get distributed they will be instant and it will help veterans.”