BOISE – The Military Order of The Purple Heart, Idaho Department, has honored Western Governors University as a Purple Heart University. The honor recognizes WGU’s commitment to supporting active and retired military personnel – including those injured serving the United States.
The university is a nonprofit, online university created in 1997 by 19 U.S. governors, including then-Idaho Gov. Phil Batt. Among its current student enrollment, 23,000 are active-duty, veteran, military spouses, or military dependents. Meanwhile, another 17,000 individuals with similar military affiliation have already received degrees from WGU.
“WGU recognizes and honors the sacrifices our Purple Heart recipients have made while serving our nation,” said Tonya Drake, vice president of WGU’s Northwest region. “Our university is honored to receive this designation as a Purple Heart University in Idaho, and we are proud to serve those who have served and sacrificed.”
The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration still in use today. It is awarded to members of the U.S. Armed Forces wounded or killed in combat with a declared enemy. The Military Order of The Purple Heart and its chapters around the country exist to foster an environment of goodwill toward combat wounded veterans and their families, promote patriotism, support legislative initiatives, and acknowledge what so many military personnel give up in the service of their nation.
“As a daughter of a Purple Heart recipient, WGU employee, and person who lives in and loves the state of Idaho, this designation has special meaning to me,” said Casey Byington, a senior program mentor at WGU who lives in Meridian. “My father received The Purple Heart for injuries sustained while serving in Vietnam as a U.S. combat Marine. I know firsthand the sacrifice he and others have made – and continue to make – protecting our nation. What WGU does for the military community is small in comparison, but we’re all proud to do even a little bit to show our appreciation and respect to those who serve.”
Idaho has been a Purple Heart State since 2017, and Gov. Brad Little has made supporting and honoring military personnel and veterans a cornerstone of his administration.
“America’s veterans have gone to war for centuries to protect us,” said Little. “They have endured loss of friends, loss of limbs, and loss of mental and emotional security for us — we owe them our respect, honor and support.”
This summer, Gov. Little and the Idaho State Board of Education entered a partnership with the university that qualifies the university’s students for need-based financial assistance offered by the state. Idahoans whovattend the university are now eligible to apply for the Adult Learner Opportunity Scholarship, the IdahovOpportunity Scholarship, the Idaho Gear UP Scholarship, the Idaho Post-Secondary Credit Scholarshipvand the Idaho Advanced Opportunities Grant.