DOD issues Purple Heart standards for brain injury

| June 30, 2011 | 0 Comments

Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service 

Purple Heart

Purple Heart

WASHINGTON — U.S. service members have long been eligible to receive the Purple Heart Medal for the signature wounds of current wars — including mild traumatic brain injuries and concussions — but now, more clarity is available about how medical criteria for the award is applied, Defense of Department officials said, recently.

Criteria for the Purple Heart award states that an injury must have been caused by enemy action or in action against the enemy, and the injury’s severity has to be to the degree of requiring treatment by a medical officer.

However, it may be difficult to determine when a mild TBI, or a concussive injury that does not result in a loss of consciousness, is severe enough to require a medical officer’s treatment.

“This is why we created this baseline standard,” said Eileen Lainez, DOD spokeswoman.

The Purple Heart can be awarded even if a service member was not medically treated, as long as a medical officer certifies that the injury would have required treatment by a medical officer, had one been available.

DOD officials also said that as the science of TBIs becomes better understood, guidance for award of the medal will evolve.

“The services are not able to speculate as to how many service members may have received a mild TBI or concussion, but did not seek or receive medical treatment,” Lainez said. “Therefore, each military department will establish its retroactive review procedures in the near future, to ensure deserving service members are appropriately recognized.”

Retroactive reviews would cover injuries suffered since Sept. 11, 2001, Lainez added.

Army officials are preparing to issue guidance. They ask Soldiers to wait until submission requirements are published through command channels and on the Human Resources Command website, before submitting or resubmitting nominations for the Purple Heart Medal for concussion injuries.

Once the Army publishes its requirements, officials said, Soldiers should resubmit requests through their chains of command.

Purple Heart nominations

Visit the Human Resources Command website at Army veterans should resubmit and mail their requests to the U.S. Army HRC:

Commander, USA HRC
ATTN: Awards and Decorations Branch (AHRC-PDP-A)
1600 Spearhead Division Ave.
Fort Knox, KY 40122

Veterans also can call (888) 276-9472 or email


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Category: Army News Service, News

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