Every time George Kuhn of Bellmawr parks his SUV in a special spot outlined with purple lines and marked with a sign reserving it for combat-wounded veterans, he’s touched by the simple, warm gesture being extended to folks like himself. It’s a stark departure from the way he felt upon returning from Vietnam, where he earned a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in 1970 while serving as a U.S. Navy medic.
“That was a time when the populace didn’t look at us veterans too favorably,” says the 69-year-old Kuhn, who parks in a combat wounded spot for a monthly meeting at the Camden County Office of Veterans Affairs in Blackwood. “It’s nice that the county put these parking spots here and are thinking about us.”
In August 2016, Camden County became the first locality in the state to honor veterans with combat wounded parking signs. They’ve been available since November 2014 through Wounded Warriors Family Support, a Nebraska-based nonprofit that helps combat-wounded veterans and their families. Thousands of purple-and-white signs appear in all 50 states. Interest in the program appears to be growing. “One guy sees it and says, ‘I want one at my business,’” says Erin Colson of WWFS.
New Jersey boasts 300 signs—from Mahwah to Cape May—including 77 installed since March. They’re typically placed in parking lots of private businesses, municipalities and shopping centers. The signs are offered as a courtesy; unlike spots for the disabled, they are not enforceable.
Sam Bocetta of Millville was pleasantly surprised to discover a combat wounded parking sign while running errands in nearby Vineland.
“I felt proud to step out of my vehicle,” says Bocetta, a Vietnam veteran. “Making spots available is a great way to pay respect to those who have served our country.”Click here to leave a comment