Early next year, a parking space near the law building will be marked and reserved for recipients of the Purple Heart Medal, awarded to U.S. armed forces members who are wounded in battle, and family members of those killed in battle.
Maine Law plans to hold a dedication ceremony at some point in the spring semester, which begins Jan. 22. The designation is meant to honor and demonstrate a commitment to Maine’s veterans and active duty service members, said Dean Danielle Conway, who served 27 years in the U.S. Army, Army Reserve, and National Guard. The Law School has seen an increase in applications from veterans, and there are 16 veterans enrolled this year.
“This symbol, while ever so small, is an important statement about the reverence Maine Law has for the military and veteran communities in Maine,” Conway said. “It provides an explicit recognition that the military and its veterans operate for and on behalf of our communities, and it shows that we identify and respect those contributions and sacrifices.”
The idea for the reserved parking space was proposed by Michael Miller, a U.S. Army veteran, Purple Heart recipient, and student at Maine Law.
Besides the direct benefit the space will provide to Purple Heart recipients who attend or visit the school, Miller hopes the gesture also raises awareness about the Military Order of the Purple Heart. The organization helps thousands of veterans each year secure VA benefits, while overseeing a wide range of other programs, including service dogs for veterans, educational scholarships, resources to help veterans cope with post-traumatic stress, and funding for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) research.
“I’m pleased to see the extent to which Maine Law is constantly helping the veteran student body and the veteran community,” Miller said. “Maine Law and Chapter 716 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, by donating this parking space and parking sign to wounded warriors and wounded warrior families, have shown yet again their deep respect and willingness to support our veterans.”
Veterans and service members pay in-state tuition at Maine Law, regardless of their home state or residency. Veterans at Maine Law also have access to peers and resources at the University of Southern Maine, which hosts the Law School on its campus. USM offers a thriving Veterans Resource Center, and was recently named one of the top 25 veteran-friendly public universities in the nation.
To learn more about the Military Order of the Purple Heart, visit www.purpleheart.org.