NYT: Troubled Minds and Purple Hearts

NYTimes/Vivienne Flesher

Image: NYTimes/Vivienne Flesher

The New York Times has an opinion piece today about the Pentagon’s recent decision not to award the Purple Heart – given to those wounded during service – to those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Opponents of awarding the medal for PTSD argue that, to maintain the medal’s integrity and for un-scammable eligibility requirements, it should only be awarded in cases where blood is spilled. However, the article’s author, former Marine captain Tyler E. Boudreau, points out that the majority of Purple Hearts coming out of Iraq are for perforated ear drums, which result from being too near an explosion, and obviously do not involve any spilled blood.

I originally wrote about the Pentagon’s decision a couple weeks ago, where I argued that the unspoken truth underlying the Pentagon’s decision is the notion that suffering from a mental illness is not as valid as suffering from a physical illness or injury. Mr. Boudreau echoes this point and argues that it is becoming harder and harder to deny the burden carried by those suffering from PTSD as a result of their military service.

Mr. Boudreau is urging General Eric Shinseki, the new head of Veterans Affairs, to bring official recognition to these soldiers and I sincerely hope it comes for them.

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