Purple Hearts For Psychological Wounds?

Purple Hearts For Psychological Wounds?


That’s what the Pentagon is pondering, and although it’s nothing more than a gesture, making PTSD and other invisible battlefield scars worthy of this historic recognition would be something I’d welcome wholeheartedly.

From Wash Post:

WASHINGTON — Centuries before Iraq and Afghanistan, George Washington created the Purple Heart to honor troops wounded in combat.

But with an increasing number of troops being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, the modern military is debating an idea Gen. Washington never considered — awarding one of the nation’s top military citations to veterans with psychological wounds, not just physical ones.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates offered cautious support for such a change on a trip to a military base in Texas this month.

“It’s an interesting idea,” Mr. Gates said in response to a question. “I think it is clearly something that needs to be looked at.”

Others are opposed…

Opponents argue that the Purple Heart should be reserved for physical injuries, as has been the case since the medal was reinstituted by Congress in 1932. Military regulations say the award should go to troops with injuries “received in action with an enemy.” Some opponents also note that PTSD can be faked, which can’t easily be done with a physical wound.

And here’s how many may be suffering under this sometimes debilitating condition…

A recent California-based research institution Rand Corp. study concluded that 300,000 of the military personnel who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan have symptoms of the disorder, which can sometimes lead to suicide. The report found tragedies closely linked to the development of PTSD: Half of the 1.6 million troops who spent time in the two war zones had friends who were seriously wounded or killed, while about 45% saw dead or wounded civilians.

The purple heart is a recognition for being wounded, and PTSD is a recognized in the military as a wound worthy of disability pay. Given that, this honor should catch up with current policy, because we know the military isn’t going to wake up tomorrow and say, “Well, PTSD isn’t actually that bad.”

What I’m trying to say is that this will happen and I’m glad to hear the conversation has started. Now it’s only a matter of time.

  • http://lifeisacookie.wordpress.com The Cookie

    I do have to hold out hope that this is just a small part of a bigger discussion …

  • Dave

    How about creating a new award and calling in the “Bleeding Heart”?

  • http://sporkmonger.com/ Bob Aman

    Frankly… I’m opposed.

    Psychological wounds aren’t the same as physical ones. Medals are already being handed out like candy. This will be seen as diluting the value of the already plentiful medal. Not a good plan.

    Certainly, more recognition is needed of the problem of PTSD, but I don’t think a medal is the way to go about it.

  • Tim W.

    Please do not lessen the value of my Purple Heart. If you do this, then do all of us who have a PH get an Oak Leaf Cluster to go with it?

  • http://infieldirt.com/ TheMiddle

    I agree pretty much completely with the statement of the above poster. I don’t think anyone who joins the Military comes out the same way. If you join ignorant of that possibility, then they only recognition you deserve is a dunce cap. What in God’s name would they think is going to happen? If you go to war, you’re going to see thats that will leave you traumatized, its an irrefutable fact. I’m not saying the psychological pain isn’t real, but give me a break. What a way to piss on the wounds of men and women who actually took bullets.

  • http://donklephant.com Ellison Hunt

    I am a veteran of Vietnam having served in the US Navy Seabees MCB-7 and I received the Fleet Marine Force Combat Operations Insignia for my service under combat conditions. After 35 years of suffering I filed a claim for PTSD after being diagnosed with chronic and severe PTSD. My Claim was granted after 6 years at 100% disability.

    When I read the two books listed below by Jonathan Shay I realized that an External Trauma is an Injury and not a Disorder. Dr. Shay said this early in his books and I realized the importance of the difference. I was injured by forces beyond my control and I should not be listed as having a disorder. I and all the other veterans of foreign wars no mater what it is called (Shell Shock, Battle Fatigue, or PTSD) should be recognized as suffering from an injury and not a disorder.

    “Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character”
    “Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming”

    “Jonathan Shay a psychiatrist in the Department of Veteran Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Boston.”

    If the Military decides to award the Purple Heart to veterans who suffered from mental/psychological injuries I would hope that they would change the PTSD to the real and true PTSI. Post Traumatic Stress Injury is real.

    My opinion is not meant to offend any veteran who has a wound be it physical or mental. I served with good men and I received an Honorable Discharge. I never regretted my service. I do think the veteran deserves the benefit of the doubt and should receive the honorable reward that a medal represents.

    Ellison Hunt

  • Ellison Hunt

    I have wondered for some time… what part of Dave is bleeding and if he even has a purple heart, or served in the Military and where?

    Dave Says:

    May 13th, 2008 at 2:37 pm
    How about creating a new award and calling in the “Bleeding Heart”?


    I even wonder if he even served anything but his own selfish interest.

    Come on Dave; tell us about your purple heart and what part of you is in pain….

    If you so easily discount mental pain why do you think physical pain should be rewarded?

    Do you really think all the young men and women coming home from our last wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should be told to suck it up and not be affected by war?

    Are you so calluses as to say “get over it” to the families of the soldiers who committed suicide?

    Do tell us about your wounds and pain, I for one would like to hear about your medals… if there are any.

    Share more of you cold disregard for those who serve, I am sure you will make a lot of friends by sharing your wisdom on the human condition.

    It is a proven fact that no one can stand up to combat conditions in war beyond a certain time frame without being changed both mentally and physically.

    How long did it take you to become the way you are?


  • http://www.michaeledits.com Michael LaRocca

    I wouldn’t mind seeing an update on this one.