No Purple Heart for PTSD
The Defense Department has ruled that service members who wish to be awarded the Purple Heart will continue to have to get themselves shot, just like in the old days.
The Pentagon has decided that it will not award the Purple Heart, the hallowed medal given to those wounded or killed by enemy action, to war veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder because it is not a physical wound.
The decision, made public on Tuesday, for now ends the hope of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have the condition and believed that the Purple Hearts could honor their sacrifice and help remove some of the stigma associated with the condition.
While I take PTSD more seriously than Stacy McCain, who asks “What next? Medals for dysentary?” I share his credulity that this was even under serious consideration. To award the Purple Heart for psychological scars would be a slap in the face to the long line of combat wounded who have earned the medal the hard way, instantly cheapening it.
It’s good that we’ve moved past the days when General Patton openly scorned soldiers with what we used to term “battle fatigue” or “shell shock.” It’s a real medical condition and not a badge of shame or cowardice. But it’s not something for which a medal should be awarded, either.