After much deliberation, the Pentagon has announced that it will not award the Purple Heart to soldiers who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. An advisory committee concluded that although the disorder is a serious matter, it does not qualify a veteran to receive the award.
Traditionally, the Purple Heart is presented to soldiers who have suffered as the result of physical bloodshed, but some have protested that PTSD is as valid as any battlefield injury. Sufferers of PTSD are prone to symptoms that include severe depression, flashbacks, nightmares and other effects, but sometimes these symptoms can take years to surface. According to a study by the RAND Corp. research organization, nearly 20 percent of soldiers who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated to have symptoms
of PTSD or major depression.
Denying the Purple Heart to these types of sufferers is bound to elicit controversy, but Defense Department press secretary Geoff Morrell defended the decision at a Pentagon press conference. "Just because an awards committee believes this particular injury does
not qualify for this award does not in any way reflect that we don't
take this problem seriously and aren't committed to doing everything we
possibly can toward preventing it, toward treating it, toward taking
care of those who are suffering with it," he said.
According to the Associated Press, the Pentagon made its decision back in November, but this information was made public on Monday on the website of Stars and Stripes newspaper.
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