SMCC reserves parking spaces for combat-wounded veterans

Southern Maine Community College is paying tribute to its military veterans by reserving designated parking spaces specifically for veterans who have been wounded in combat.

SMCC on Thursday unveiled signs with Purple Hearts reserving two parking spaces on its South Portland Campus for veterans who have been wounded in action. A third space will be reserved on SMCC’s Midcoast Campus in Brunswick. The spaces are marked with purple-and-white “Combat Wounded” signs and are lined with purple paint.

“It is important to remember all of the sacrifices our veterans have made for the freedoms we have today,” SMCC President Ron Cantor said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. “These new parking signs are one way for SMCC to recognize and honor our students who were wounded in action, as well as all veterans here and everywhere.”

The signs come from the Combat Wounded Parking Signs program, which is part of the Wounded Warriors Family Support, an organization that provides support to veterans and families of those who have been wounded or killed during combat operations. The organization says SMCC is the first college or university in Maine to install its signs.

Among the combat-wounded veterans enrolled at SMCC is Justin Galipeau, a two-tour veteran of the war in Iraq, where he served with the Marine Corps. Galipeau was seriously wounded in 2004 by an IED blast, earning him the Purple Heart.

Galipeau in recent years has served as the regional chief of staff and commander for the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) and is now earning a business degree at SMCC to use toward a national position with the veterans organization.

The new parking signs bring awareness and recognition to all Purple Heart recipients from all eras, Galipeau said.

“The first time I saw these signs displayed, it was very humbling to see how many people and businesses support us,” he said. “These signs remind us that even though they are for Purple Heart recipients, we should be aware of all veterans and active-duty who fought and still fight for our country to keep it free.”

Photo Caption:From left, SMCC student and veteran Thomas Rackliff, SMCC President Ron Cantor, and SMCC student and veteran Justin Galipeau use oversized scissors to cut a purple ribbon in front a “Combat Wounded” parking sign on the SMCC South Portland Campus