To honor the known 25 Purple Heart medal recipients attending UCC, student Gary Santos led the charge to get free designated parking spots reserved with colorful signs for these veterans.

Santos, also an employee in the IT department, volunteers for the campus veteran’s affairs department.

“Anytime I can get involved in stuff like this, it’s a great gesture. It’s something that’s very viable,” Santos said.

The signs, sponsored by the Military Order of the Purple Heart, were sent to Santos at no cost because Douglas County qualified as a Purple Heart County through a proclamation process.

purple heart
Gary Santos, Health Informatics student, advocated for purple heart parking spots

“The Tech Center and the Riverview buildings are on an incline that’s a bit difficult to walk, so that’s why I thought about putting up one of the signs there. If you’re an injured vet, that access could be hard,” Santos said.

Santos served his country himself as a Cold War marine. He lost his hearing in one ear from bad water he came in contact with while stationed at Camp Lejeune.

Jess Miller, UCC director of facilities, said it would be around the beginning of March before these signs will be put up. One parking space will be located near the Technology Center, and the other will be by the library. Miller also indicated that facilities will paint the spaces with purple stripes, too.

Parking in the space marked for a Purple Heart wounded warrior is not illegal; however, if you do, expect a lot of nasty notes on your window.

wounded warrior
Matt Scoggin/ Flickr

Because Douglas County is home to many recipients of the Purple Heart medal, it became a Purple Heart County in 2015. Roseburg and Winston are also known as Purple Heart cities.

Created by George Washington, the Purple Heart medal is the oldest military recognition still in use. Currently, over 1.7 million Purple Heart medals have been awarded.