South Dakota State University Coordinator for Veterans Affairs Connie Johnson has been selected to participate in the 2021 Purple Heart Patriot Project, held Sept. 26 through Oct. 1.
“I am honored to have been nominated and selected for the Purple Heart Mission Trip. To be able to witness the National Purple Heart Museum in person and connect with fellow Purple Heart recipients is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I was informed seven women have been selected, which means more and more women are being recognized for their service and sacrifices to our nation. I am excited to meet them at an event that honors all Purple Heart recipients from all generations,” said Johnson, who was awarded her Purple Heart in 2004 after suffering injuries as a 19-year-old in Operation Iraqi Freedom. She is the state’s only registered female Purple Heart recipient.
In addition to her work at the Veterans Affairs Resource Center, Johnson has played key roles in the Horses for Heroes program and SDSU being recognized as the nation’s ninth Purple Heart Campus.
“I think Connie being selected for this honor not only represents Purple Heart Recipients, but it also gives testament to what Connie is as a human being. She genuinely cares and gives her time and effort to the bigger picture, veterans helping veterans. This is her passion and that is why it’s so important to recognize our own people who go above and beyond,” said Russ Chavez, SDSU’s director for Veterans Affairs.
The Purple Heart Patriot Project provides an all-expense paid trip to the selected Purple Heart recipients. Each mission is comprised of one Purple Heart recipient representing their fellow Purple Heart heroes from their state.
This salute to service brings together Purple Heart heroes from virtually every conflict of the last century to honor their courage and sacrifice. The multiday Patriot Project Mission will feature visits to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, historic Washington’s Headquarters where the Badge of Military Merit originated in 1782, and a private tour of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor—the museum dedicated to paying tribute to our nation’s combat wounded. Other special tribute events are also being planned.
“Our Purple Heart recipients have made enormous sacrifices for America and this is our opportunity to say ‘thank you’ on behalf of a grateful nation. For some, this will be the homecoming they never had. Bringing these distinguished veterans to the Hall of Honor, which serves as a testament to all they gave, couldn’t be a more fitting tribute,” said Purple Heart recipient Richard Lay, chairman of the board of directors of the National Purple Heart Honor Mission.