Saturday, January 10, 2009

Purple Heart for PTSD? NaGaHapun...

There has lately been an effort, heralded on the blogs and elsewhere, to make victims of combat-related PTSD eligible for the Purple Heart. The Purple Heart is awarded to any military personnel who are wounded or killed in combat service. It was created by George Washington: "Let it be known that he who wears the military order of the purple heart has given of his blood in the defense of his homeland and shall forever be revered by his fellow countrymen."

And there's the rub, or part of it. PTSD doesn't typically, or necessarily, include 'giving blood,' and therefore is not regarded as constituting a sacrifice deserving of the nation's 'reverence.' That'd be one big impediment. In fact, soldiers asked about it have said they believe awarding the PH for PTSD would "cheapen" the award. A story in The Army Times last year contained the following complaints:
"It would lessen the meaning of the award,” a Marine said about the military’s oldest combat medal.

“I’d be ashamed to wear it,” chimed in a soldier.

“It’s an insult to those who have suffered real injury on the battlefield,” wrote an Army intelligence officer.

Then one would need to consider the attitudes of the "Brass." The military brass, no matter what noises they might make to the contrary, ALWAYS regard "PTSD," "combat fatigue," "shell shock," etc., to be forms of malingering, mere excuses from the duty ALL faced, whether in terror-induced psychoses or not.

The Brass, the pols, the bureaucracy may fake a certain sympathy for the victims of PTSD/Shell Shock, but behind it is unrelieved scorn: "Tough Guys" don't break down like little girls at the sight of a few dead bodies, or from getting blown up a little. Succumbing to PTSD/combat fatique is a sign of inherent weakness. And anyone who is so delicate as to be unable to continue in their duties is unworthy of the trust of their buddies, because they might collapse in a crisis, and in combat, one fights not for god, nor country, nor flag, nor even the girl back home; one fights FOR one's buddies, one's shipmates, one's pals.

So there will be no Purple Heart for the PTSD victims. It would be too much like honoring what those who award the medal regard as borderline cowardice...

Of course, they've got their heads up their asses.

But when was THAT any kind of abnormality among the Military Bosses?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a Purple Heart recipient I fully support the Pentagon's decision not to award the Purple Heart for PTSD.

I am very sympathetic to those who suffer this terrible disorder and hope you will acknowledge that the Military and the VA are fully aware of its effects and are offering treatment.

The criteria for this particular medal, however, is the suffering of physical wounds on the battlefield as the result of combat action by the enemies of the United States. There are many other kinds of injuries on the battlefield -- someone can have a leg crushed by a vehicle, you can be injured by friendly fire, you could be exposed to chemical or biological agents, you can even contract a life-long disease. After Vietnam, for example, those soldiers exposed to Agent Orange are now suffering from many diseases, including Diabetes. After the first Gulf war, many suffer from “Gulf War Syndrome.” Where do you draw the line? Moreover, PTSD is a treatable disease -- loss of a limb, or any combat wound for that matter, is permanent. And, what about those who feign the illness just to receive VA medical treatment; or, what about a group who witnesses a battlefield trauma together, but only one or two suffer from PTSD; should they all receive the Purple Heart?


Just for the record, this is not a new phenomenon, it just has a new name. Soldiers have suffered from "Shell Shock", "Combat Fatigue", and other symptoms since the beginning of warfare.

Since its inception in 1932, this Medal honors those who have spilled their blood or given their lives in the defense of their country. Expanding that criteria only denigrates its honor and those who wear it proudly.

— JB, Lady Lake, FL