Local group works to create parking spots for wounded veterans

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Photo by the Virginia Department of Transportation (Flickr Creative Commons)

Every parking lot provides reserved spaces for handicapped drivers and expectant mothers, but now a local group of veterans is working to designate spaces for those who have been wounded fighting for our country.

The Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 845, a Greenville-based group that supports military veterans and their families, is providing establishments with specially designed signs that designate reserved parking for wounded veterans.

The signs, which the group distributes for free, are meant to not only honor wounded veterans but also serve as a reminder of the sacrifices they made at home and abroad, according to Greenville resident Doug Greenlaw, who is chairman of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 845 and Community Journals.

“Combat wounded veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, bad joints, and all kinds of other health issues. But many don’t quality for handicap parking,” said Greenlaw, who was wounded twice during an infantry combat tour in Vietnam. “We’re hoping that these signs make it easier for them to get around town.”

He added that the parking signs were donated by the Wounded Warriors Family Support Organization, a Nebraska-based nonprofit that helps families of injured or killed soldiers. The organization began offering the signs in 2014. It has since distributed more than 2,000 signs across the country.

The signs are emblazoned with the Purple Heart, a medal awarded to those who have either been wounded or killed in combat. There have been an estimated 1.8 million Purple Heart medals awarded since it was established in 1932.

Greenlaw and others are working to install 20 signs at businesses, churches, and other establishments across Greenville County. To date, the group has installed a sign at Cabela’s on Woodruff Road and Willow Creek Country Club in Greer.

“Cabela’s is grateful and humbled for the sacrifices made by our service men and women who risk it all each and every day,” said Tina Furmanek, marketing manager for Cabela’s. “Our gesture of putting up a sign to recognize and assist our veterans is a just a small token of appreciation.”

The signs are not official regulatory signs and do not replace existing handicap parking spots, but Greenlaw said he hopes people will use the “honor system” and leave the spots for veterans who sometimes need more space to get in and out of their vehicles.

For more information, visit wwfs.org.

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