Letter from the Chairman — Purple Heart Day, Honoring Our Military Heroes

Dear Veteran,

On August 7th, the Texas Veterans Land Board (VLB) celebrated National Purple Heart Day in honor of the service and sacrifices of some of this nation’s bravest military members. The Purple Heart was created by General George Washington in 1782 to recognize bravery in battle and today is awarded to servicemen and servicewomen who have been injured or made the ultimate sacrifice in combat. The Purple Heart is the oldest active United States military medal, and since it was first introduced, over 1.8 million service members have received this award with more than one million Purple Hearts awarded during World War II alone. The VLB is proud of Texas’ approximately 47,000 living recipients of the Purple Heart and reveres the memories of the many Texans who earned their medals after giving their lives in service.

Recently, the VLB had the honor of spotlighting the service of one of the many Texas Veterans who have earned a Purple Heart; Sergeant Archie Thomas of Hearne, Texas is a resident of the Tyler-Watkins Texas State Veterans Home (TSVH), a World War II Veteran, and former Prisoner of War (POW), as well as a Purple Heart recipient. After enlisting in the Army Air Corps, Sgt. Thomas served as a gunner on a B-52 aircraft, and, in 1942, was shot down over Germany. Miraculously, he survived, managing to jump from the mangled aircraft with a parachute. Tragically, the other nine members of his 10-person crew were unable to escape and were killed in the resulting crash-landing. Once on the ground, Sgt. Thomas was captured and held as a POW, but persevered through his harrowing experience and was eventually able to return home to the United States.

Sgt. Thomas’ story is but one example of the tremendous courage and resilience of Purple Heart recipients. In the face of danger and in service to their country, these incredible men and women sacrifice life and limb in the line of duty, and it is vital that they and their families receive the support they need. Many Purple Heart recipients and other war heroes reside in our TSVHs, and it is an honor and a privilege to provide them with expert care as we carry out our mission to serve Veterans, Military Members, and their families. From specialized nursing treatment and physical therapy to post traumatic stress support groups and an expansive Veterans peer network, the VLB continues to ensure that we offer these patriots the best Veterans benefits in the country.

The team at the VLB not only strives to support the health and wellbeing of Texas Veterans, but also to preserve their legacies of service. To this end, the VLB sponsors the Voices of Veterans Oral History Program, which keeps the invaluable stories of our Veterans alive by preserving them for future generations. The stories of Texas Veterans, including those who have received Purple Hearts, can be found at voicesofveterans.org/.

In honor of Purple Heart recipients, may we always remember the high price of freedom and remain grateful to all Veterans as their sacrifices and unwavering dedication to service continue to build a better future for us all.

God Bless Texas,

George P. Bush, Chairman Texas Veterans Land Board

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Texas VLB

Texas VLB

Official Account for the Texas Veterans Land Board | Land, Home, and Home Improvement Loans, Texas State Veterans Homes and Cemeteries