The official blog of American Veteran Magazine, the national quarterly publication of AMVETS.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Army Clarifies Purple Heart Criteria for Concussions

Recently the Department of the Army clarified its criteria for awarding the Purple Heart to soldiers suffering from blast-related concussion wounds like traumatic brain injury, or TBI.

In a letter to AMVETS from the Army Adjutant General, Brig. Gen. Richard P. Mustion, the Department of the Army clarified its policy toward concussion injuries that did not result in loss-of-consciousness, which was often considered a defacto criterion for rating the Purple Heart.

In the letter, Mustion encourages soldiers who may have been previously denied the Purple Heart for the injury to resubmit their paperwork through the first general officer within their chain of command for review.

The policy is retroactive for concussion injuries sustained on the battlefield through contact with the enemy dating back to Sept. 11, 2001.

Mustion was clear to note that the memorandum was not a change in policy, but rather a clarification. The Marine Corps recently amended its policy to conform with other service standards, dropping the caveat for loss-of-consciousness and leaving discretion for awarding the Purple Heart to battlefield doctors who could diagnose the injuries properly.

AMVETS supported the Marine Corps adopting its new standard for the Purple Heart that was in line with the standard of the other uniformed services.

"As a veterans’ advocacy group, AMVETS’ primary concern is delivery of proper care for combat injuries," said AMVETS National Commander Jerry Hotop in response to the change in Marine Corps policy. "A Purple Heart automatically entitles combat-wounded veterans to receive requisite care from VA. In the case of TBI, the old Marine Corps policy may have actually created an unnecessary roadblock to care for veterans exposed to blast injuries. Like broken bones or internal bleeding, you can’t always necessarily see the physical damage caused by roadside bombs. This is particularly true with TBI, which is why AMVETS believes the Marine Corps is making the right decision by deferring to its doctors to make that call."

In reaction to the Army's clarification of its policy, AMVETS leaders encourage any soldier who suffered a blast injury in combat who was previously denied the Purple Heart to resubmit their paperwork in a timely manner.

"We applaud the Army's outreach on this critical issue," said Hotop. "No veteran who needs care for a blast-related injury should be allowed to slip through the cracks, and we're encouraged to see Army leadership taking the necessary steps to ensure their soldiers receive the care that they need."

Proper identification and treatment for polytraumatic blast injuries like TBI is one of AMVETS top legislative priorities for 2011, as outlined in the 2011 Legislative Priorities book. American Veteran will continue to follow this issue closely. Check back regularly for updates.

(Image: Letter from the Army Adjutant General to AMVETS clarifying the Army's policy for awarding the Purple Heart for concussion injuries.)

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  1. I am a member of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association and earned a purple heart with the Marines in Vietnam. I think their going a bit too far with PH's for TBI, what next PH's for PTSD and bed wetting?

  2. I think the Army should go back to Vietnam Veterans who have been found service connected by the V.A to have PTSD which I feel is also a head injury caused in combat, the Marines also include hearing loss and tennitus.
    Andrew Moothart, post 1776

  3. I am a member of the Red Knights Motorcycle Club and a Vietnam Vet (68-69) 60% disabled with VA. I witnessed guys receiving the Purple Heart for jumping from a jeep, falling and being cut, during a rocket attack at Cu Chi. Another fell while running for cover, drunk, from the EM club, being cut and scrapped. I also had my CO and best friend die from cancer caused by Agent Orange. Were they any less deserving? I had three tanks blown out from under me, two of which had to be scrapped, by land mines. Did I, or another of my crew members receive a TBI? No one knows. We didn't know about it or how to recognize it. I was not elegible for a combat ribbon becaus the Army says your MOS has to be Infantry to be considered "in combat." I don't understand the logic behind some of the regulations. But, it is what it is!

  4. Really great blog. My friends referred me your site. Looks like everyone knows about it. I'm going to read your other posts. Take care. Keep sharing.

  5. really nice stuff you have been sharing lately. I admire those that worked hard for our country. Even the entreprenurs that create things like a phone number lookup that helps others track others quickly and easily.

  6. Oh boy.......a combat veteran's MC club. My, that's a big one. The government should give PTSD Vets a PH. Besides, some slug riding a motorcycle didn't get shot up too bad. Huh....big guy?