TYLER (KYTX) - Once the City of Tyler was officially named a Purple Heart City this week, we wanted to find out why. What issues are we tackling well and what others do we need to put more work into?
When our nation's heroes come home from war, it's not always an easy transition. That's why community support of veterans across the nation is essential.
"Veterans have paid a high price in leaving their families and communities by placing themselves in harm's way for the good of all," says Tyler Mayor Martin Heines.
The City of Tyler is now one of only about 10 Purple Heart communities in Texas.
"The city needs to be involved in veteran issues and Tyler probably is well above what the average city would get," says Nick Sciarinni, the Tyler Chapter Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the organization that gave the City of Tyler this award.
The program looks out for wounded warriors, but also focuses on helping vets as a whole. He says Tyler's recent strides to help veterans have been successful.
"The mayor's initiative for the round table that had different military groups getting together to specifically address issues that are identified. One issue was a homeless issue, some other issues are healthcare issues including the VA clinic and getting the clinic expanded," Sciarinni says.
He says while the community has made huge progress, there's still a lot of work to be done, particularly when it comes to veteran employment.
"People may identify a veteran and say oh well he just knows how to shoot. Well, that's not the case. Probably 80 to 90 percent of the veterans are not in a combat scenario. They're a support role, they're a logistics expert, they're an administrative expert, they're a medical expert," he says.
He hopes local employers will allow more of our nation's heroes to utilize those many skills in our workplace.
As we mentioned, there are about 10 cities, counties, and universities in the state of Texas that are "Purple Heart Communities." The problem is, there are 700 Purple Heart communities nationwide, so Texas has some catching up to do. Sciarinni hopes to identify more operations in our state that are helping veterans.
To learn more about the Military Order of the Purple Heart, click here.