Anderson Issues

Commentary on the Zeitgeist

Soldiers With Brain Trauma Denied Purple Hearts

Posted by andersonhsstudent on October 20, 2012

Should Purple Hearts be given to soldiers that suffer traumatic brain injuries alongside of soldiers receiving them for undergoing a physical injury?  The guidelines from the U.S. Department of Defense states that the criteria for the Purple Heart award is that the injury must have been caused by enemy action or in action against the enemy and has to be of a degree requiring treatment by a medical officer.  But many times, it is difficult to know if a concussion or mild brain injury needs to be addressed immediately when not resulting in loss of consciousness.  Therefore, many soldiers are not aware of the long term damage of the injuries they suffer and do not consult a medic and instead continue selflessly fighting for our country.  Also, according to National Public Radio (NPR), even soldiers meeting qualifications to be eligible for the medal are often times denied to receive it. While some think the guidelines for receiving a Purple Heart need to be revised to consider those who experience brain injuries, others think these awards need to be specifically for those severely wounded or killed in combat.

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The denial of Purple Hearts to soldiers is not an entirely new issue, as soldiers have been struggling to receive their rightful recognition for many years.  I am definitely biased towards allowing all types of injuries while at war to receive Purple Hearts because I have a personal connection to someone who has suffered an injury and am aware of how much their Purple Heart medal means to them and therefore wish that every injured veteran could receive one.  Below is a video clip of Congress member Chellie Pingree speaking up for soldiers who have been denied their rightful Purple Heart:

A Purple Heart is very significant to those suffering traumatic brain injuries, as sometimes it is the only outward sign of the hardship they have endured and the selflessness they have displayed for our country.  National Public Radio did a follow up article to the previous one I have included a link to in this post, this one more personal.  They followed the story of retired Army Major Michelle Dyarman, a woman who was repeatedly denied a Purple Heart for her service and suffering a mild traumatic brain injury, until she was finally granted the medal after repeated attempts and strong resistance against the Military Order of the Purple Heart.  In the recent article by NPR, Dyarman says “Part of the official Soldier’s Creed is, ‘I will never leave a fallen comrade.’ Ever since the Army first rejected awarding me a Purple Heart, I have felt that I was kind of left behind.”  NPR reports in September of this year:
In 2010, some Army commanders refused to award the Purple Heart to many troops who got concussions in combat because they didn’t consider these “real” injuries. As a result of our story, the Army did its own investigation and put out new guidelines on Purple Hearts. Last week, the Army told NPR that under the new rules, they’ve finally awarded the medal to almost 1,000 soldiers, including Michelle Dyarman, whom we profiled in our original 2010 reports.
Dyarman responds to obtaining the Purple Heart medal by saying “Somebody finally stepped up and picked me up, and made things right, and for that, I’m very grateful.” So the situation is getting better, but is it good enough?  Should one suffering concussions and brain injuries have to add insult to injury by having to prove themselves in order to get their Purple Heart?  Obviously I’m biased towards giving Purple Hearts to those suffering any impairing injury while serving our country, but I’m interested to hear other opinions! Tell me what you think!

2 Responses to “Soldiers With Brain Trauma Denied Purple Hearts”

  1. soccerchick3 said

    I heartily agree with you. I do not understand the reluctance that the army conveys in giving out Purple Hearts to those who have only suffered small traumatic brain injuries. I believe, as you do, that anyone who has been remotely injured in a war setting should be able to receive a Purple Heart for their service to their country. I cannot imagine how it must feel to be denied a Purple Heart award when one has worked so hard to earn it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that every soldier should receive a Purple Heart- only those who have suffered injury, again, can receive it, but it shouldn’t matter what that injury is. Of course, I do not believe that one should receive a Purple Heart for small scrapes and bruises, but a traumatic brain injury in and of itself is serious enough to qualify for this category. My heart goes out to all the soldiers out there who are fighting for their country with valor- in my mind, every soldier, whether they are wounded or not, should receive some kind of award.

  2. fearlessfishtank said

    I think that injured soliders should receive purple hearts. They have fought for our country. Not only have they fought for our country, but have also been injured. Doesn’t it make sense to give them purple hearts? Injuries can cause all kinds of trauma. Emotional trauma, head trauma, and other kinds of damage. If a soldier has any kind of trauma it immediately effects him in some way. If a solider has head trauma, after his service he will not be able to return to the job he had before the war. The solider’s life will be effected forever. It just seems right to give a solider who has sacrificed himself in this way, receiving an injury, a purple heart.

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