I Spy…..a DoD Sticker!

I’ve been traveling this week. I’ve been in and out of different towns, mostly towns that do not have military installations nearby. It’s a bit odd because I’m used to living in or around a military community. When I drive around Killeen or Columbus or Lawton, every car seems to have some type of "Support Our Troops" magnet on its bumper, but it’s the DoD sticker slapped on the front windshield that tells me, "they’re one of us."

Civilian land is quite different. I drive around here and am surrounded by people who support me (their bumpers say so) but they don’t really know anything about me. Yes, I was a civilian before I was an Army wife, and I promise I can behave quite respectibily among civilians. Well, maybe not. At any rate, it’s just not the same anymore. Now, I can see the weakness of the civilian community, and it bothers me. A great deal.

I’m in a vunerable position. The whole town is. If this town were suddently attacked by foreign enemies, I can’t count on the locals to scale walls, draw up a battle plan, dig foxholes, lob grenades, take prisioners and snipe the enemy to death. It’s an unsettling thought, really.

So, as I was contemplating this danger while sitting at a stop light this morning, it appeared. There it was. Out of nowhere. A sight for sore eyes. Facing me was a car with a DoD sticker! Clearly, this was a military man. Look at that haircut. I gasped, happily. I’m sure this man was glad to see me, too. We stick together, you know…. How long had it been since he had seen another DoD sticker? This will just make his day. I was sure of that….

As my military pal was approaching, I got ready. Then, when he was almost even with me, I did it. I held up my hand, gave him my best 150-watt smile and waved happily at this stranger, who wasn’t really a stranger because military people never meet strangers. 

My new pal looked puzzled. He didn’t wave, or smile or even stop. He just looked at me like I was a nut and kept on truckin’.

Did I just get the brush off from a kindred spirit?

"I think so," I answered myself.

I was hurt. How could this be?

That’s when it hit me…..

I’m in a rental car. There is no DoD sticker. He does not know that I’m a kindred spirit.

I wanted to chase him down and wave my ID card wildly in front of his face. I thought about it, too. I did.

Look, look, I’m an Army wife. I’m legit. Now you can wave at me. Aren’t you glad to see me?

No doubt I’d be arrested for stalking, so I thought better of it.

Well, gotta go now. I’m off in search of other DoD stickers. I think I’ll put a sign in the window to prevent any confusion in the unlikely event I come across one:

This is a rental car, so I don’t have a DoD sticker. But, I am an Army Wife. Honk if you have a DoD sticker. We need to get together and implement an emergency plan in case this town is attacked. If not us, then who?

About the Author


Andi is married to an active-duty soldier and is the founder and former editor of SpouseBUZZ.

She is the founder of the Annual MilBlog Conference. The MilBlog Conference is the premiere event of the year for military bloggers. President George W. Bush, U.S. Representative Adam Smith, GEN David Petraeus, LTG Mike Oates, LTG William Caldwell, RADM Mark Fox, MG Kevin Bergner, MG David Hogg and The Honorable Pete Geren have addressed previous conferences.

While living in Washington, DC, Andi was the Ambassador to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for Sew Much Comfort, a non-profit organization which makes and delivers, free of charge, special adaptive clothing for wounded service members. Andi has worked with several non-profits to help our wounded heroes and their families. She finds that work to be the most rewarding and meaningful of all.

Andi strives to find humor in the good, bad and ugly of life and is a firm believer that laughter has the ability to cure most ills.

  • oh, do I know that feeling! living in civilian land… it’s eerie! Yeah, we need a sign…

  • Kate

    Actually, the Air Force just stopped issing DoD stickers…100% ID check only now for most bases. It made me sad and my husband could not understand why. It’s for the exact reason you posted. I like to know who is “one of us” :)

  • Claire

    Ha! That is so funny!
    My dad was a Marine when I was young and now he’s a contracter on a Navy base so I’ve always lived on or next to a base. It wasn’t till later in high school that I realized that not EVERY car had a DoD sticker … I thought it was just part of the whole registration process … ya know, tell the Department of Defense what you’re driving so they know??
    When I took my DoD sitckered car to college, I had to explain to people what it was for … they looked at me like I was strange.
    I just bought a new car, so now, no DoD stickers … when I’d go visit my boyfriend (Navy in San Diego) I felt like I was “in,” even though we’re not married … but now I’m clearly civilian … which is ok. But I still want those stickers!!

  • LOL, you made me smile with this one.
    We went home to Ohio (very rural Southern Ohio) in August and saw a car with a DOD sticker on it at our local Walmart. My husband got all excited and shouted “Look, they’re not civilian either!” across the parking lot. So I really know where you are coming from. :)

  • You know, motorcycle enthusiasts have a hand sign they give when they pass each other on the road. We can’t salute each other… but maybe a thumbs up? ;)

  • Killjoy

    I live in “off-base” military housing which means it’s military housing, but we don’t have a guard at the gate. We have remotes that trigger the gate to open, which allows anyone to follow us in. We, as residents, RELY on those DOD stickers to know who does and does not belong in our community. I hope it will be a long time before the Marine Corps does away with the stickers.
    As far as traveling away from our military community, I do the same thing, but I only wave to the ones with the Marine Corps sticker on the back. What can I say? I’m biased!
    Also, please keep all of the evacuated military families from So California in your thoughts. A large part of the military community is being directly affected, I’m surprised to see that hasn’t been covered on SpouseBuzz.

  • DoD sticker? I think I got one of them. Not sure when was the last time I used it. But more importantly, I know when the NEXT time will be: when Jack Bauer and I go to Ft. Bragg and … SBL3! Whoohoo!
    Andi, you are too funny. Rental car, doh! ;-)

  • Oh I so get what you are saying. Now that my husband is retired,we live nowhere near a military base. Of course we don’t have a sticker. I play this same sort of game in my head too- only now, when I see out of state plates, I look to see if they have a military sticker. I smile when I see one then I imagine they are on leave visiting family and enjoying the long missed and much adored Monical’s Pizza. Just like we used to do.

  • Penny

    Lol.. Oh, as if you read my mind.. I’ve been doing that ever since I got here. I was at a red light many months ago when I happened to glance at the car across from mine and I spotted a Dod sticker, I too was so excited, thinking out of all here in New Orleans, we were the *only 2* with Dod stickers. Where they here vising or driving through? I went home with these thoughts in my head then I found out there were not 1 not 2 but 3.. yes.. 3 naval bases on the other side of town.. I’ve lived here um.. pretty much my whole life.. And.. I .. Never.. Knew– The things you don’t notice as a civilian. I was still pretty excited about seeing the sticker though hehe

  • Ok…I admit, I have never noticed a DOD sticker. I am so out of the loop.

  • audette

    Huh. DoD stickers. I sometimes look for them when travelling, but work more often sends me overseas for work, so instead I play the game in the airport of “is that person military?”. Maybe it’s a silly game, but one I play nonetheless.
    I also travel with one of DH’s old bags as my carryon (you can stuff _so_ much stuff into the army backpacks! for some reason I keep getting pulled out of the security line for chemical scans on my bag, though… heh)
    So occassionally one of the people I’m trying to decide if they’re military will recognize the backpack. Always seems to bring a smile to their faces.

  • Mary

    My husband is in transition between one job and the other. Since he will be gone a year and 3 months, my girls and I moved home where the school system is sooooo much better and safer. I was actually relieved to hear that there are about 6 military families here in town now. Hooray and Hooah! I may not meet them but at least they are here. That might explain the increase of Texas tags in this part of Oklahoma.

  • M Siddall

    I do not have a DoD sticker but I am a Veteran; that makes me and all Veterans, “one of you” does it not?

  • LostFriend

    Dear All,
    Please forgive me for the intudion. I am not a member of this Website, but I am one of you and I am asking you for help.
    I have been looking for a very dear friend for 2 years. Unfortunately all I could find is NOTHING.
    His name is Samuel A Bowlen and as far as I know he is still active and a member of DoD. If someone knows anything about him, please let me know.
    Thank you ALL so very much.
    Lost Fiend