Purple Heart veterans Alan Knutson (from left), Walter Martin and Bill Evans. Photo by Michelle Chance

The Maricopa chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart gathered Aug. 7 to honor the U.S. men and women who were wounded or killed in combat.

Aug. 7 is National Purple Heart Day. This year it served as an opportunity for the local chapter to gather.

The 10-member group celebrated its first anniversary in June, and Chapter Commander Walter Martin is looking to recruit younger veterans.

“It seems like every time we get started, one of our members goes to the hospital,” Martin said.

The majority of the chapter’s members are ageing veterans who are often unable to attend meetings due to medical reasons.

“We all have those types of issues and we are looking for the younger veterans to take over,” Martin said. “(We recognize) that they do have a young wife and family to take care of.”

Martin’s wife, Anita, plans to start a Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Military of the Purple Heart, which will provide education and support to spouses of veterans in the chapter.

“I’m trying to put a women’s group together so the older women can mentor and let them know what to expect,” Anita said.

Anita said many times spouses of military veterans are unaware of how to cope with their husband’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, contributing to issues that sometimes lead to divorce.

“They need help and our government doesn’t provide that for them,” Walter said.

Maricopa became one of nearly 1,500 Purple Heart Cities in the United States in November. The chapter plans to install signage of the designation on State Route 347 in the future.

“The city supports the Purple Heart, not financially, but if you want to do something, the mayor is very gracious and will support that,” Anita said.

Being one of only 11 chapters in the state, the Maricopa MOPH accepts veterans from around the region including Casa Grande, Chandler and surrounding areas.

The chapter meets once a month at Native Grill & Wings. For more information contact Anita Martin at 626-399-6255.

This story appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.


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