Earlier this month, Southern Crescent Technical College garnered the designation of becoming a Purple Heart College for its efforts to support those who have served or are serving in the United States military. SCTC is only the second college in Georgia to receive this honor. A ceremony was held at the SCTC Griffin campus on Wednesday, June 4 with members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, as well as local veterans in attendance. Dr. Randal Peters, President of SCTC, stated he felt the designation was critical to the future of the college and something he was very proud to be a part of.
“We are going on record that we are going to work really hard to take care of our vets. That’s the least we can do,” said Peters. “They have served in combat and have seen things better unseen…It seems to me the least we can do is honor their service by providing them a place to meet. A place where they know they are welcome and that they are safe. We are going to do everything in our power to create and educational experience for them that is free of hassle, easy to work with and provides opportunities they might not have been able to take advantage of during their time of service.”
Dr. Peters thanked Gail Daniels, Coordinator of Student Affairs for SCTC, stating that without her efforts, this distinction never would have been possible.
Peters also told the crowd, in addition to becoming a Purple Heart College, the school is renovating a classroom on campus to be a Veteran’s Center, a one-stop shop for anything from admissions to graduation and everything in between. He continued stating this is where their needs will be taken care of. Dr. Peters also stated he has recently submitted an application for SCTC to be considered a Service Hands-On Community College, which will further help veteran students who are truly citizens of the world. During his 23 years in the military, Dr. Peters said he lived in 17 different places, and that type of moving around can make it very hard for someone to put together a college transcript.
“It is hard to put together a college transcript when you are that mobile,” said Peters. “This is an attempt to take all those credits that they (students) may have had-a class here, a class there or a course here, a course there-and put together a transcript that will make them closer to obtaining their credential.”
Finally, the school is embarking on an effort to be designated a “military friendly college,” which Peters noted is like the Purple Heart designation states the school will do everything in its power to make the college experience one that veteran students will cherish rather than one they regret. SCTC also is aware that while family members did not sign up to serve, they go through the same type of thing that veterans do. Therefore, the school wants to make certain that the veterans families are taken care of as well.
At the close of the ceremony, COL (RET) Doug Middleton, who serves as the State Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, spoke to the crowd. He started off by giving a brief history of the Purple Heart medal, which is now given to any soldier wounded in combat. Originally, the idea for the medal was thought up by George Washington when he was serving in the capacity of General of United States Army. After witnessing the way the army, made of up farmers who came to fight for freedom, handled battle, he thought it was wrong that awards and medals were only given to those of higher rank. He decided on a medal that was to be a purple heart, edged with lace and to be worn over the left breast of the recipient; which would be given out to soldiers for “military merit.”
However, soon after the Revolutionary War was over, the medal was no longer used. It was not brought back up until 1932 when General Douglas MacArthur reinstated the award in its’ current form: to be given to soldiers who suffered wounds in combat with enemies of the United States of America. Prior to General MacArthur’s declaration, those wounded in battle were presented with a Wound Chevron medal.
“It is not a medal that most desire to get, obviously,” said Middleton. “There are a number of different ways that one earns it. It is a unique decoration amongst all. Those of us who have received it are very proud to wear it. It is an honor that this college has declared itself a Purple Heart Technical University and we thank you very much.”
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1