Helping veterans is Colonel Washington Sanchez’s passion and he lives it every day. He began his military career in the ROTC program at Florida A&M University. His 27-year Army career included two combat tours in Vietnam, where in November 1965 he was wounded and awarded the Purple Heart Medal. He also served three tours in Germany where he commanded Field Artillery Battalion for three years and a Colonel level command. He unknowingly struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for over 40 years.
Following retirement, he found a treatment called Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) that worked for him. During his three years as the Chairman of the Florida Veterans Foundation, Colonel Sanchez was an impassioned activist and supporter of HBOT including obtaining a 1.25-million-dollar grant to assist veterans. HBOT treatments have been credited with preventing many veterans’ suicides.
While at Foundation with advice and work of hundreds of volunteers, Col. Sanchez chaired the first 3-day Homeless Veterans Stand Down Event in Tallahassee in 2013. It has been very successful for 7 years by providing free medical and dental treatments; legal services and Court judication of non-felony cases; housing services; driver licenses; haircuts; meals and many other community services. It also served as way to connect veterans with each other in a safe environment.
Many honors came late in life for Colonel Sanchez. He was inducted into the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame in 2016 and the National ROTC Hall of Fame in 2020; he was selected as the Patriot of the Year for Chapter 758, the State and Region IV of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH). Colonel Sanchez is also the Florida Purple Heart 2021 selectee for a 4-day New York trip to the National Purple Heart Patriot Honor Mission. Col. Sanchez is appreciates being recognized for his service to the Tallahassee community and the State, and is glad to know he has made a positive impact on the lives of others.
Another way Colonel Sanchez has found to help Veterans is by sharing his experiences for all to see in a documentary. “Not My Enemy” is planned to be completed this summer by the FSU School of Fine Arts’ School of Dance.
Colonel Sanchez is married to another passionate volunteer, Gloria Sanchez. She became very active in the Military Order of the Purple Heart Auxiliary and served as the state, regional and national presidents. They have supported each other by attending MOPH and MOPHA meetings and conventions together.
The Colonel has two children who have each given him two grandchildren all living in the Washington D.C. area.
Veterans should help each other, and Colonel Sanchez certainly lives that. Besides all his work for fellow veterans in need, one of his close friends nominated him for the Florida Veteran’s Hall of Fame and he in turn has nominated friends. Colonel Sanchez will certainly continue his passion to assist veterans in many ways.