Award the Purple Heart for PTSD?

Here’s a link to last week’s article at the Wall Street Journal about a debate surrounding this topic. Should veterans diagnosed with PTSD receive the purple heart? Traditionally it has been awarded for those who suffered physical injuries. Here’s a quote from the article:

Supporters of awarding the Purple Heart to veterans with PTSD believe the move would reduce the stigma that surrounds the disorder and spur more soldiers and Marines to seek help without fear of limiting their careers.

“These guys have paid at least as high a price, some of them, as anybody with a traumatic brain injury, as anybody with a shrapnel wound,” John Fortunato, who runs a military PTSD treatment facility in Texas, told reporters recently. Absent a policy change, Dr. Fortunato told reporters, troops will mistakenly believe that PTSD is a “wound that isn’t worthy.”

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.

“The Purple Heart was meant to be a badge of honor to show you were wounded in battle,” says Bob Mackey, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who fought in the first and second Iraq wars. “I’ve been in combat three times. There’s stuff I’ve had to deal with. But it’s substantially different from being physically hurt.”

The biggest difference, he says, is that some veterans may be diagnosed with PTSD even if they never saw combat or fought an enemy — requirements, historically, for receiving a Purple Heart.

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Clinical Psychologist practicing in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

5 thoughts on “Award the Purple Heart for PTSD?”

  1. i spent 16 months in iraq and i have to say i have ptsd i seen people get purple hearts for motars going off to close and getting a head ache we got hit bye ied and concusions got some of the guys purple hearts i would like to know why they would get one and ptsd and brain inguries dont.


  2. As a soldier suffering from PTSD and the stigmas attached, I have to remind everyone…a bullet wound heals, PTSD does not, no treatment or meds will cure it, and I will never be without it, it is an injury, but it is not a physical one that we understand how to fix.


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