Time Magazine’s Mark Thompson reports that with the growing numbers of veteran’s suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (roughly 40,000), military personnel are starting to think that individual’s suffering from mental injuries may deserve the Purple Heart, and the Pentagon is apparently listening.
The Purple Heart has traditionally been awarded to those with physical injuries or those killed while defending their country. Currently the “Army classifies PTSD as an illness, not an injury, which means it doesn’t qualify for the honor. But John Fortunato, an Army psychologist at Fort Bliss, Texas, argued in early May that PTSD affects soldiers by physically damaging their brains, making the condition no different than conventional wounds”.
According to Thompson (2008):
The suggestion has garnered high-level Pentagon attention. “It’s an interesting idea,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently noted. “I think it is clearly something that needs to be looked at.” The Defense Department’s awards advisory group, which previously ruled that PTSD doesn’t merit a Purple Heart, is now studying the issue again.