The annual Triangle Purple Heart Dinner was hosted by NC State on August 17 to honor Purple Heart Award recipients, Gold Star families who have lost loved ones, and active military in the Triangle community. Poole College of Management’s Shane Whitten, the Jenkins MBA student, was among those who were honored at the dinner held at the McKimmon Center.
Whitten is a retired U.S. Army civil affairs officer who had seven deployments between Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and South Korea. He has been participating in the Triangle Purple Heart and the Sandhills Purple Heart Dinners since 2016.
“I believe that these events hold a particularly special meaning for veterans that fills a dark void that should have never existed in the first place,” said Whitten when describing how meaningful the annual dinners are, especially to Vietnam veterans. “Their communities (then) did not welcome them home, and in many cases, sadly, were shamed. It was a dark time in American history for our military service members and veterans.”
The Purple Heart Award is a symbol of combat injury and the sacrifice of personal safety and is only awarded to members who are wounded by an instrument of war at the hands of an enemy and posthumously to families of those who are killed in action. The award reminds Whitten that he served his country to the best of his ability, proudly, and that he is lucky to still be here as others were not as fortunate.
Like many veterans, Whitten applies his military background to the Poole College classroom daily with skills and experiences from his service.
“We learn how to apply many skills, for most that are first experienced at the MBA level, such as decision-making processes, executive-level briefings, exposure to cross-cultural and cross-team collaborations, and time management,” said Whitten. “My military experiences align wonderfully with the ‘Think and Do’ that the Jenkins MBA program instills into its students.”
Whitten is now the senior vice commander and Americanism officer with the Fort Bragg Chapter 2226 where he continues to support and serve fellow veterans, current service members, and his community. He is also a life member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
“Our fantastic Military and Veterans Services Office shows our military students that they are valued and supported, and we give them a venue to share their stories with our campus family,” said Julie Fleming, director of advising and student affairs, as she described how Poole can support and recognize active military and veteran students. “In my experience, military students are not looking for recognition or awards, but rather a sense of belonging and community in an environment that appreciates their service. I believe Poole provides that environment.”