Ceremony celebrates Southern Utah University’s distinction as Purple Heart Campus

President Scott Wyatt and Board of Trustees Chairman Eric Leavitt present Commander Gibson of the Military Order of the Purple Heart with the signed declaration, Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah, June 24, 2016 | Photo by Kaleigh Bronson, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY – Southern Utah University celebrated its distinction of being named a Purple Heart Campus by The Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 0802, Friday on the patio of the R. Haze Hunter Conference Center on campus.

SUU President Scott Wyatt and Board of Trustees Chairman Eric Leavitt join to sign the official proclamation designating Southern Utah University a Purple Heart Campus, Cedar City, Utah, June 24, 2016 | Photo by Kaleigh Bronson, St. George News / Cedar City News
SUU President Scott Wyatt and Board of Trustees Chairman Eric Leavitt join to sign the official proclamation designating Southern Utah University a Purple Heart Campus, Cedar City, Utah, June 24, 2016 | Photo by Kaleigh Bronson, St. George News / Cedar City News

SUU is the first Utah campus to earn the national distinction as a Purple Heart Campus. With this designation, SUU joins an elite group of colleges across the country that have also received the proclamation that recognizes efforts to provide invaluable resources and support to veterans of the United States armed forces.

Flanked by SUU administrators, Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 0802 members, veterans, elected officials, community leaders and Purple Heart recipients, President Scott Wyatt and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Eric Leavitt signed the official proclamation.

“This distinction represents the toll paid by many before us,” Leavitt said.

Wyatt opened the ceremony with personal remarks reflecting the deep gratitude he feels for the service of those in the armed forces. Wyatt’s father served in the Air Force and he shared stories of his father’s service and legacy.

“I don’t know who is more honored today, those who have earned the Purple Heart or those of us who are here to celebrate getting a Purple Heart Campus distinction.” said Wyatt.

Purple Heart Recipients, SUU Administration and local elected officials join for a photo with the official proclamation, Cedar City, Utah, June 24, 2016 | Photo by Kaleigh Bronson, St. George News / Cedar City News
Purple Heart recipients, the SUU administration and local elected officials join for a photo with the official proclamation, Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah, June 24, 2016 | Photo by Kaleigh Bronson, St. George News / Cedar City News

Southern Utah University has 385 veterans as students, including several Purple Heart recipients, and a robust Veterans Support and Resource Center that supports and aids veteran success at the university.

With the growth of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide among combat veterans, the need for places of security and support, such as the veterans center, is becoming a necessity.

Wyatt said it is his honor to work to better the lives of veterans through programs at the university.

Caleb Vadnais, director of the veterans center on campus, explained that the support of the Cedar City community is what put the university in a position to provide services to veterans and their families.

After signing the proclamation, Cmdr. Dee Garth Gibson of the Military Order of the Purple Heart thanked many at the university for honoring the veterans there in such an admirable manner.

In his closing remarks, Wyatt said, “We know how to win wars, now we need to learn how to win peace.”

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Email: kbronson@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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