Texas A&M Now A “Purple Heart University”
Texas A&M is now a “Purple Heart University,” a designation signifying its recognition and honor of veterans who were wounded in combat while serving their country and are now pursuing their college careers in Aggieland.
Texas A&M Interim President Mark Hussey made the designation official in campus ceremonies Wednesday (Oct. 29).
At least nine known Purple Heart medal recipients are among the estimated 1,066 veterans who are currently enrolled at Texas A&M. In indicating that even more may be studying on campus and have not yet been identified as holders of the medal, officials at the Veterans Resource and Support Center add that there are two known faculty members who have received the Purple Heart.
Texas A&M reached out to the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), and that organization offered support in honoring not only Purple Heart recipients, but also all veterans, says Austin Howard, who is on the staff of Texas A&M’s Veteran’s Resource and Support Center and is himself a Purple Heart recipient.
“Each school that is a Purple Heart school is sponsored by a chapter of the MOPH, ours happens to be Chapter 1919 from Austin,” Howard says. “We have been identified time and again as a military-friendly school by numerous agencies; now we are honoring our commitment to the combat wounded through this proclamation.”
The university has a long history of distinguished military service, with eight former students being Medal of Honor recipients, and it commissions more officers into the military than any institution in the nation other than the military academies.
The “Purple Heart University” designation is the latest in a series of recent forms of recognition of Texas A&M’s service to veterans. Last month U.S. News & World Report‘s inaugural “Best College for Veterans” poll ranked Texas A&M as one of the top nine best universities in the nation for veterans.
Col. Gerald Smith (USMC-Ret.), director of Texas A&M’s Veteran Resource & Support Center, notes the high U.S. News & World Report ranking follows Texas A&M being cited by Military Times in its “Best for Vets: Colleges 2014” rankings as one of the top dozen four-year schools in the nation and the leading four-year public school in Texas.
In yet another ranking of best colleges for veterans, bestvalueschools.com has rated Texas A&M as the top university in the nation for return on investment (ROI) for veterans.
Texas A&M — more specifically the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets — is ranked No. 3 nationally in “Top 10 Military Schools in America” ratings by TopTenz, an online organization that specializes in producing a variety of top-10 lists. The Corps is topped in the military school ratings only by the U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Military Academy, meaning it places first among all military programs that are part of public or private universities, institutes or colleges, including the Senior Military Colleges, of which there are only six in the nation.
Texas A&M has several times been named a “military-friendly” campus by Military Times and the MBA Program at the university’s Mays Business School was ranked in the top 10 MBA schools most often attended by graduates of the service academies, according to a 360 Mentors study conducted by militarymba.net.
In addition to its long military history, Smith also highlighted the unique “dual office” support structure at Texas A&M. “We have the Veteran Services Office in the office of Scholarships & Financial Aid that focuses on educational benefit processing while our Veteran Resource & Support Center provides many others services. The partnership between these two offices ensures that Aggie Student Veterans are connected with resources to fully support them from application to vocation.”
Texas A&M supports and recognizes veterans in a variety of manners, Col. Smith points out. “We honor graduating veterans at a reception prior to the commencement ceremonies at which they will receive their degrees and provide them special forms of recognition to wear on their academic regalia if they so choose. We also recognize a ‘Student Veteran of the Month’ with a certificate and the ‘Student Veteran of the Year’ receives a scholarship. ”