Winthrop Earns Purple Heart Designation For Its Support of the Military

Staff Report From York County CEO

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

Winthrop University was recently designated as a Purple Heart University from the Military Order of the Purple Heart in recognition of the university’s support of military members, including veterans and their families.

The Winthrop University Board of Trustees unanimously voted Feb. 22 during its annual retreat to honor its Purple Heart recipients and veterans by accepting the Purple Heart University designation. Three Winthrop trustees are veterans.

The Purple Heart is the nation’s oldest military award in present use and is one of the most respected medals that U.S. military members can receive. The medal was initially created as the Badge of Military Merit by General George Washington in 1782.

The mission of the Military Order of the Purple Heart organization, which bestows the Purple Heart University designation, is to foster an environment of good will among combat wounded veterans and their families, promote patriotism, support legislative initiatives and to remind the nation of the sacrifices of Purple Heart veterans.

Winthrop joins six other South Carolina universities with this designation.

“We at Winthrop are delighted to expand our services to support our student military veterans,” said Glenn McCall, chair of the Board of Trustees. “As a U.S. Air Force veteran, I know firsthand the sacrifices made by the men and women of our military services. We particularly value the contributions made by those who were awarded the Purple Heart for they carry the physical scars of battle.”

Drew Russell, president of the Student Veterans of Winthrop Association, was in attendance at the board meeting with two local Purple Heart chapter members. “The designation is a good idea because it will help Winthrop’s student body realize that there is a large number of veterans here on campus and will encourage them to learn more from us through the proclamation,” said Russell, who is a U.S. Army veteran.

This latest designation - Winthrop also is recognized by US News & World Reports as a Veteran Friendly institution - reinforces Winthrop’s strong support system for its military students, which include:
• Yellow Ribbon program participant: Winthrop participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which allows the university and the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide funds for tuition and fees that exceed the established thresholds under the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

• Dedicated Student Veterans Center: located on the garden-level of Bancroft Hall, the center is a designated study and social space available only to student veterans.

• Review of military transcripts for academic credit: the university will review both Joint Services Transcripts and Community College of Air Force Transcripts for students who have taken military course work, and who wish for that course work to be evaluated for transfer credit to Winthrop.

• Designated Veterans Benefits Coordinator: this full-time staff member assists students with applying their military benefits.

• Student Veterans of Winthrop Association: this organization provides camaraderie building, networking and volunteer opportunities for student veterans. It also advocates on behalf of the needs of student veterans.

• Purple Heart parking: two on-campus parking spots are dedicated to recipients of the Purple Heart.

In addition to these offerings, the university also has the Military, Adult, and Transfer Services (MATS) office, which opened in summer 2012. The office serves military, adult, and transfer students throughout their Winthrop career. The office has been able to coordinate resources campuswide to support student veterans, including the development of the Student Veterans Center, among other initiatives.

The office works with about 120 student veterans to assist them in navigating Winthrop resources. It provides personalized consultations, including academic planning and resource referrals, undergraduate Transfer Orientation Leaders and Mentors (several of whom are veterans), and specialized programming. Programming efforts have included co-sponsoring the annual Veterans Day Ceremony and coordinating Veterans Day Appreciation events.

The office will help publicize this year’s visit by The Wall That Heals – a replica of the Vietnam Memorial – at Riverwalk in October.