L-O-U community first in state to earn this triple distinction
SEPTEMBER 11, 2015 | By WILLIAM M. HAMILTON
The University of Mississippi, city of Oxford and Lafayette County have been named a Purple Heart University, a Purple Heart City and a Purple Heart County for their efforts to create a welcoming environment for veterans and Purple Heart recipients.
The Purple Heart is a military decoration given only to those wounded or killed in combat while serving their country.
“I believe that veterans will recognize that Ole Miss has worked hard to improve its veteran and military support services, and is committed to helping student veterans achieve their academic goals,” said Michael Howland, UM coordinator of veteran and military services. “Our designation as a Purple Heart campus is recognition of this hard work and we’re very proud to receive it.”
“The special things that Ole Miss does specifically for veterans that attend the university are what qualify them to become a Purple Heart University,” said Ben Baker, commander of the Oxford Purple Heart Chapter.
The university’s Veteran and Military Services was created in April 2013 to provide comprehensive resources to veterans, active members of the military and their dependents and to assist them in becoming successful as UM students.
“My impression of being named a Purple Heart University means we support, honor and welcome veterans to this great campus,” said Matt Hayes, senior military instructor for Army ROTC and a Purple Heart recipient. “When you have a campus that is supportive of your goals and ambitions, it really gives the veteran the inspiration and drive to succeed.”
UM is home to 205 registered veteran students, 250 ROTC cadets and more than 900 students using GI Bill benefits.
“This is evidence of a lot of hard work by many dedicated professionals over the last few years,” said Morris Stocks, acting UM chancellor. “We are very honored to be recognized, along with Oxford and Lafayette County, for service to our veterans, particularly those who have earned a Purple Heart.”
Upon learning of UM’s designation, Howland approached Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson and Lafayette County Board of Supervisors President Jeff Busby and invited them to join the university by seeking designations as a Purple Heart City and Purple Heart Community.
“Having the city excited simply shows that support of veterans extends beyond the gates of Ole Miss to the greater LOU community,” Howland said. “Oxford and Lafayette County have a strong history of support and designation as a Purple Heart community simply confirms that goodwill.”
While UM is one of four SEC institutions to hold the Purple Heart University designation, it will be the first university in Mississippi to receive the designation in conjunction with the city and county in which it is located.
“Along with the university and Lafayette County, we are honored to have the designation as a Purple Heart City and take particular pride in saluting Purple Heart Veterans,” Patterson said.
Busby agreed, noting that, “it is an honor for Lafayette County to named a Purple Heart Community and to honor the men and women that served this country so diligently.”
UM, the city of Oxford and Lafayette County made a joint announcement of the designation during Friday’s LOU 9/11 Day of Service event and at Saturday’s football game against Fresno State.
To learn more about veteran and military services at UM, visit http://vms.olemiss.edu.