USA TODAY US Edition
Reconsider wounds that deserve Purple Heart
I amnotopposedtotheArmy’splan to award the Purple Heart to more soldiers who suffered brain concussions while in a combat zone. I believe that no one returns from war without wounds, visible or otherwise (“Rules change for Purple Hearts,” News, March 17).
However, once this decision expanding the definition for concussions is made, then the Army and other branches must again examine whether the Purple Heart should be awarded for post-traumatic stress disorder, a wound from war that has destroyed many lives and with which some veterans cope for the rest of their lives. Additionally, what about the Korean War and Vietnam War veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and have one or more of the diseases caused by dioxin? Are these not wounds of war also?
These are difficult questions to answer because traditionally, the Purple Heart has been awarded only to those who have received visible, physical wounds in combat. Adding to the sensitivity could be the reaction of those who have been awarded the Purple Heart for grievous wounds, in some cases multiple wounds, and the honor of the sacrifice that goes with the award.
I am a Vietnam War combat veteran and struggle with several less-than-visible wounds. I honestly don’t know what the right answers are to these difficult questions. But we clearly do have the obligation to honor and respect all who have served their country. Randy D. Kautto