August 7, 2015
When we launched our Fellowship Program in 2007, there was a particular requirement: veterans must have held a disability rating from either the Department of Defense or Veterans Affairs. The idea was to help infuse purpose into the lives of veterans who came home from the service injured, either in wartime or stateside.
It’s today–National Purple Heart Day–that we honor those who were wounded and killed in battle. Though the award was originally a medal for merit in colonial days, the Purple Heart was designated during World War II as recognition for wounds received by the enemy. It is now one of our strongest symbols of military heritage and courage.
More than 80 of our Fellows have received the award from action in Iraq, Afghanistan and other campaigns. Despite their wounds, these veterans are carrying the same commitment to the people around them. Now, that commitment is service to their community.
In the larger veterans community, there has been a shift in how we think about wounds, both visible and invisible. Our program qualifications have also changed with the times. In 2012, we opened the fellowship application to all post-9/11 veterans. You no longer must hold a disability rating to join us, but you do have to demonstrate a commitment to continued service.
So on National Purple Heart Day, we thank our Fellows who have sacrificed on the battlefield. We know those wounds are not often what hold veterans back, but like service and purpose, are part of what drives them forward.
Want to service your community in a new way? Apply for a fellowship.