PORT ANGELES — Veterans who were injured in combat now have a special parking spot at Peninsula College.
A sign marking the new parking stall has been installed in the former “student of the month” parking spot, adjacent to the school’s handicapped parking area, on the Port Angeles campus at 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd.
Isaac Chavez, who was wounded in Afghanistan while serving with the Army from 2008 through 2013, is using the spot now. He has been the only student to apply for it so far.
About 150 veterans are registered as students using their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits at Peninsula College, and many other veterans are attending school without veterans assistance, said Jerrod Brown, veteran navigator at the college.
“It is a way to say this college is more of a veteran-supportive school than we have been in the past,” Brown said.
The school has been inclusive of veterans but is making changes to really give solid support to veterans, he said.
The Peninsula College Associated Student Council voted to eliminate the student of the month parking in favor of providing a combat-wounded veteran parking spot.
How to apply
To use the parking spot, veterans must submit a DD-214 form to Brown, documenting a Purple Heart award for combat injuries.
Eligible students will be issued a student parking pass with a Purple Heart sticker, which is good for the academic year.
The space will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis for all who are eligible.
The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the president to those wounded or killed while serving with the military.
“To get a Purple Heart, something bad had to happen,” Brown said.
Combat-wounded veterans might not necessarily have a disability that qualifies them for a handicapped parking permit, but a parking spot 100 feet closer to classrooms might make getting around a bit easier for a less severely injured veteran, he said.
More parking spots for combat-wounded veterans at the college will be considered if there is demand and if the pilot parking spot is successful, Brown said.
When Peninsula College began the process of converting the parking spot, there were no other colleges with the program, he said.
Brown said several other colleges were able to implement Purple Heart parking before the Peninsula College spot was ready.
“This space is important for many reasons, the most basic being to say thank you,” he said.
He said the Peninsula College veterans support team is also working with Olympic College in Bremerton to create a similar parking program on that campus.
For more information on veterans programs at Peninsula College, contact Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
________Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at email@example.com.