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Clark State given Purple Heart Campus designation

Clark State Community College has become one of the first Ohio schools to receive the Purple Heart Campus designation after the board of trustees approved the proposal from the Springfield chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

The designation, denoting that Clark State actively supports and welcomes veteran and military members, is part of its effort to become more military friendly. The Military Order of the Purple Heart approached the college about the designation after it unveiled its Fallen Warrior Memorial last November.

Clark State had 122 registered veterans and 37 dependents enrolled last fall, according to Clark State President Jo Alice Blondin.

“These numbers have increased,” she said in an email, “and our plan is to continue to reach out to our veterans and active military and show that we are truly ‘military-friendly.’ ”

The designation is a big deal for Clark State, said Scott Cody, student senate public relations coordinator.

“Us being the first, if not, one of the first colleges in the state, to have the Purple Heart designation is huge,” he said, “because we’re stepping up and showing that this is how much we care for our veterans, that we go out of our way to make them feel welcome.”

Cody, who is in his second year at Clark State after spending seven years in the Ohio National Guard and completing a tour of duty in Iraq in 2009, was the mastermind behind Clark State’s Fallen Warrior Memorial.

He said he noticed when he first came to campus that there was nothing designated for veterans — no military seals, no student groups for veterans and no veteran atmosphere. But he wasn’t the only one who noticed something was missing.

“Last year when Dr. Blondin came in and joined as president, I was told that I needed to start looking for ways to make the atmosphere more welcoming for veterans,” Cody said. “President Blondin had seen that we had a disconnect with veterans and didn’t really have an atmosphere for veterans.”

“I was interested in creating a value-added and inclusive environment for all students,” Blondin said, “and I received a lot of great feedback from students about how to best serve our military and veterans, and so we began working to implement those suggestions.”

Cody has proposed as a next step for Clark State to secure a lounge for veterans, which was quickly approved. More details will be released as everything is finalized, Cody said.

A ceremony will be held April 29 to commemorate the Purple Heart Campus designation.