Tyler has officially been designated a Purple Heart City as a way to recognize the city for its involvement with veterans and veterans’ issues and for honoring service members.

The designation came Wednesday during a City Council meeting.

“Smith County is home to nearly 18,000 veterans and we are honored to receive the Purple Heart City classification,” Mayor Martin Heines said in a news release.

Assistant City Manager/Communications Director Susan Guthrie said Tyler has a long history of support for America’s veterans.

In 2011, the Mayor’s Veterans Roundtable was formed to create a community blueprint for enhancing and supporting services for veterans, she said, and through that roundtable, the city has focused on employment, education, housing, medical care and mental health.

Ms. Guthrie said a lot has been accomplished through the roundtable, including the Veteran and Military Growth Initiative.

“The VMGI outlines more than 40 strategies and tactics for veteran-focused community growth, making a strong case for how implementation will bring fresh dollars into Tyler/Smith County and cement Tyler’s reputation as the ‘capital of East Texas,’ but, most importantly, to demonstrate our never-ending support of our veterans and our respect for the sacrifices they have made to serve this country,” according to City Council communication.

“Numerous nonprofit services have grown and improved in Tyler,” Heines said. “The goal is to provide a forum to learn and share best practices and to bring key stakeholders together to collaborate in assisting those who have served our country.”

And Tyler’s designation as a Purple Heart City is now a unique opportunity to take one more step toward being the most veteran friendly community in America, Ms. Guthrie said.

“Thanks to Nick Sciarrini and Lloyd Jones, who lead the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, today we are going to be proclaiming that Tyler is a Purple Heart City and honoring those who have been so brave in defending our freedoms,” she said.

Also on Wednesday, Sciarrini presented a special recognition award to the city on behalf of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, a national organization, “for its dedication and support in honoring America’s combat wounded veterans (and) becoming the Purple Heart City.”

“We as veterans, as Purple Heart recipients appreciate all of the efforts of the mayor, the city council, previous mayors, previous city councils, on issues related to veterans and veterans’ issues,” Sciarrini said. “One of the objectives of the Military Order of the Purple Heart is to assist veterans, so this fits right into what we’re supposed to be doing as an organization.”

Jones said of the designation, “I think it’s a great thing. I think the city and the county and the (Tyler Area) Chamber of Commerce are doing a great job at making Tyler a veteran- friendly place to live.”

Sciarrini said with the news of Tyler’s Purple Heart City designation, more people might get involved with the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

According to the Military Order of the Purple Heart website, other Purple Heart cities include Kerrville, Georgetown, Lubbock, Grapevine and Harker Heights. Additionally, Kerr County is a Purple Heart County and Texas Tech University and Texas A&M University are Purple Heart universities. Central Texas College is a Purple Heart College.

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