Student vets proud to see UNTHSC designated a Purple Heart University
By Alex Branch
Gary and Aundrea Palladino met while serving in the U.S. Air Force as pharmacy technicians at Joint Base Andrews in Washington, D.C.
At the three pharmacies on base, Gary and Aundrea filled prescriptions and managed inventory, compounded IV and topical medication orders, and maintained crash carts located throughout the hospital. Aundrea also helped disperse medications to injured military personnel arriving from overseas, while Gary provided medical support at the nearby Pentagon.
At their primary duty station, they discovered their love for pharmacy – and each other. They married in October 2010 and set out to attend a pharmacy school that welcomed and supported military veterans.
They say they found that place in the UNT Health Science Center, where the Palladinos are now third-year students in the UNT System College of Pharmacy.
On Friday, Nov. 10, they will attend a ceremony dedicating UNTHSC as a Purple Heart University, an honor given by the Military Order of the Purple Heart DFW Mid-Cities Chapter #1513 in recognition of a university’s support of military members, including veterans and their families.
The ceremony, which is open to all team members, will be held from noon to 12:30 p.m. in the Library Courtyard. A reception will follow in the EAD Atrium from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm. For more information visit the event’s Daily News posting.
“The Purple Heart recognition is definitely earned because staff and faculty are really supportive of student veterans,” Gary Palladino said. “They’re great about guiding us through the paperwork for benefits, making sure everything gets done on time and making sure we feel welcome.”
The Military Order of the Purple Heart is composed of military men and women who received the Purple Heart Medal for wounds suffered in combat.
Gary Palladino is the current President of the UNTHSC Student Veterans Association, which has about 60 active members. The student organization helps promote interprofessionalism by bringing together student veterans from different programs on campus and providing education to those that may be interested in veteran healthcare.
“As veterans, we have some shared experiences and it’s nice to connect and learn about the things other veterans are studying,” Aundrea Palladino said. “Going back to school is a transition, and we have a community here.”
After graduation, the Palladinos plan to continue their service in the field of pharmacy. Gary Palladino hopes to join the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, a team of more than 6,500 highly qualified, public health professionals overseen by the Surgeon General.
Aundrea Palladino wants to care for fellow veterans at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I can relate to them,” she said. “My experiences and the education I’m getting at the Health Science Center would make it a great fit for me.”