Washburn first school in Kansas to earn purple heart designation

Jessica Knieff

Washburn will become Kansas’ first Purple Heart University with a proclamation 2 p.m. Nov. 9 in the Security Benefit foyer outside the president’s office.

This designation comes in light of outstanding services provided to active and veteran military members.

Lisa Galindo, junior criminal justice major and president of the Washburn University Student Veterans Organization, is excited about the honor.

“I think it’s really good to have the community involved, knowing that Washburn works really well with veterans and it’s very engaging with our veteran community,” Galindo said. “This is a good place for them to be because they [Washburn] recognize some of the obstacles that combat veterans have.”

Galindo said she believes that designating Washburn as a purple heart university will help veterans know that Washburn has the resources available to help them succeed. 

Jesse Gunnels, junior human services major with Integrated Practice: Victim and Survivors, as well as a member of WU Student Veterans Organization, has experienced the benefits of the veterans services provided at Washburn.

“There is a safe camaraderie with all the units,” Gunnels said. “[It] doesn’t matter what branch of service you are here. We are all the same. We’re all equal.”

To learn about the services, students can visit the Military Student Success Center in Mabee Library, Room 206A or the VA in Building 4. Topeka has local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legions as well. Gunnels encourages other veterans to reach out to access these resources.

“There is always someone there on the other line that will help them get what they need to get done,” Gunnels said. “They are not going to put you on hold. They are going to make you their first priority.”

Shannon Golden, current post commander of VFW Phillip Miller post 1650, works in the Washburn’s Office of University Diversity and Inclusion and assists with getting veterans into school and utilizing their GI Bill benefits.

“A lot of college campuses are not as military friendly as they should be and I think Washburn is,” Golden said. “To be dedicated as a purple heart institution or a purple heart campus — that’s really pretty awesome.”

Events this week preceding Veterans Day include the proclamation of Washburn being named a Purple Heart University Nov. 9 and Veterans Day ceremonies Friday. A ceremony at Washburn Tech will occur at 10 a.m. and a ceremony at Washburn University will occur at 11:15 a.m. near the Vietnam War Memorial southeast of Morgan Hall.

For more information about the services Washburn offers for military members and their families, contact the Center for Veteran’s Success at (785) 670-1983.