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What's a 'Purple heart university'?

May. 20, 2013 - 11:54AM   |  
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Troy University announced last month that it was the country’s first “Purple Heart University.” If you’re not entirely sure what that means, you’re not alone.

In recent years, counties, cities and states have begun adopting the Purple Heart designation as a show of support for the combat-injured or combat-killed veterans honored with the decoration of the same name. The announcement by Troy, one of the country’s top schools for military tuition assistance, could mark the start of universities getting into the act.

“It’s just another way that the university can recognize contributions of military students and veterans,” said Cliff Lusk, a spokesman for the Alabama-based school that also educates service members around the world.

The “Purple Heart” designation doesn’t require the university to make any commitments or develop new programs for veterans.

Representatives of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, both on the national level and in Alabama, praised Troy as a school that has served members of the military well and will honor the Purple Heart name. Some colleges and universities have been criticized as marketing themselves deceptively to service members, but K.T. Cole, commander of a local Alabama chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, said he’s not worried about that happening in the future with the Purple Heart designation.

The Purple Heart name is a “fairly sacred area that most people will respect,” Cole said. If a school did not, “I think the backlash to that university would be so dramatic that they would rue the day.”

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