US Soldiers Not Eligible To Receive Purple Heart for PTSD

by VR Sreeraman on  January 10, 2009 at 2:52 PM Mental Health News
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US soldiers will not be eligible to receive the Purple Heart for the invisible psychic wounds of war, the Pentagon said Thursday, reserving the medal for those wounded in combat.
US Soldiers Not Eligible To Receive Purple Heart for PTSD
US Soldiers Not Eligible To Receive Purple Heart for PTSD

The decision was reached following a review suggested by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates after touring a mental health center at Fort Bliss, Texas in May.

"The conclusion then is, as it is now, that PTSD does not qualify, given the 76-year definition of what a Purple Heart recipient is," said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary.

He said Gates thought the issue was worth re-addressing when asked about it in Texas, but accepted the conclusion of the panel that reviewed the requirements for receiving the award.

"But I don't think anybody should assume that that decision is in any way reflective on how seriously we take the problem of PTSD in this department," he said.

"I think we will spend about a billion dollars on research, development, treatment, preventative measures. And I think you will see more and more money being spent to combat this very real problem that we are all terribly concerned with," he said.

About 300,000 service members who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from PTSD or major depression, the Rand Corporation estimated in a study in April.

Source: AFP

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I disagree completely. Although PTSD is very real, it can pertain to anyone, military and civilians alike. It can affect that child who survived a car accident in which her parents died. It can affect students at schools where shootings took place... Behind the Purple Heart, you'll find years of tradition. You'd be ridiculous to think that our Fathers before us didn't experience the same kind of exposure, if not worse. WWI & II? Korea? Vietnam? American Soldiers were slaughtered by the masses. More exposure to incidence, and they had less support mechanisms in place than the ones we have today. There is always room for improvement for the way our Soldiers transition from the sandbox upon returning home, and dealing with the experiences they were exposed to, YES. Should we change years of tradition and alter the conditions in which we can recieve a very presigious and honorable medal? NO. How many people can you think of that CLAIM they have PTSD and were never exposed to any hostile environment? I know I can think of more than I can count on both hands.. That would be a flawed system and there would be many undeserving people walking around wearing the same medal as a gentlemen who lost his leg, or even gave his life..

Here's the bottom line. Soldiers who have PTSD need support. Assistance. Counsel. Things that will either get them in their right frame of mind to return back to the fight, or transition them out of the military where they can contribute to the workforce in other conditions best suited for them.

SSG Goede, Ryan J
3x Purple Heart Recipient

Could not agree more. Many times the soldiers get a raw deal. The admin should be a little more careful. People suffering from PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder have the memories of the traumatic events persistently haunting them and leads to sleep and memory problems. They feel emotionally numb, and feel detached from people who are close to them. PTSD is a well established condition and the psychiatrists can help.


Reading what how you feel brings me a little more understanding of my wife. I do every thing possible to help. She is getting proper treatment now and seems 95% better. But I know it will not go away


I am a Purple Heart recipient due to wounds received in Iraq, and I also suffer from PTSD. I was a medical platoon sergeant with an Infantry Battalion, and I witnessed close to 20% of my Battalion, both combat arms and support soldiers, wrestle with some form of PTSD. Even though PTSD doesn't manifest itself with physically visible injuries, it is still a serious issue and a DEFINITE combat injury. PTSD ruins lives of both soldiers and their families. PTSD ruins military careers because, at least in most of the army's view, you're "weak" or you just need to "suck it up and drive on". It's high time the military stopped ignoring it and face facts: PTSD DOES hurt, as much if not more than physical combat wounds. Scars heal over time, but emotional wounds last a life time.

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