The Military Order of the Purple Heart is pleased to support the recent U.S. Army decision to review the criteria for award of the Purple Heart medal for concussion injuries and salutes the leadership of U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff General Peter W. Chiarelli who has personally spearheaded this new initiative. MOPH National Commander Clayton Jones recently met with GEN Chiarelli to discuss the U.S. Army review and was satisfied with the reassurances that “nothing will ever be done to diminish the prestige of the Purple Heart medal.”
Awarding the Purple Heart for a concussion is nothing new. Army Regulation 600-8-22 defines the criteria for award of all military awards. Specifically, Section II, Para 2-8, provides the criteria for the Purple Heart, explaining that ”The Purple Heart differs from all other decorations in that an individual is not ‘recommended’ for the decoration; rather he or she is entitled to it upon meeting specific criteria.” The criterion also recognizes that “a physical lesion is not required. However, the wound for which the award is made must have required treatment by a medical officer and records of medical treatment for wounds or injuries received in action must have been made a matter of official record.” Among the examples of wounds for which the award is authorized are “Concussion injuries caused as a result of enemy generated explosions.”
The MOPH understands that under this review, there will be no change in the criteria for award of the Purple Heart medal. Rather, the result should be a better defined set of criteria for what constitutes a concussion. In most cases, concussions on the battlefield have been the result of IED explosions, a signature injury of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to DOD records,, more than 202,000 U.S. troops have been diagnosed with some form of TBI since 2002, and TBI alone constitutes 16% of battlefield wounds for which wounded soldiers are separated with a service-disqualifying injury of 30% or greater.
What is new is an appreciation of the seriousness of concussions on the battlefield and the means for determining the severity of the injury. Battlefield medical personnel have already been provided a means of testing the cognitive ability of the injured soldier, while portable MRI scanners and other detection devices are expected to be fielded in the near future. The key determinant, however, will continue to be a diagnosis by competent medical authority on the battlefield.
The organization now known as the “Military Order of the Purple Heart of the U.S.A. Inc.,” (MOPH) was formed in 1932 for the protection and mutual interest of all who have received the decoration. Chartered by the Congress, The MOPH is unique among Veteran Service Organizations in that all its members were wounded in combat. For this sacrifice, they were awarded the Purple Heart Medal. With grants from the MOPH Service Foundation, the MOPH and its Ladies Auxiliary promote Patriotism, Fraternalism, and the Preservation of America’s military history. Most importantly, they provide comfort and assistance to all Veterans and their families, especially those requiring claims assistance with the VA, those who are homeless, and those requiring employment assistance. Through the VAVS program, MOPH volunteers provide assistance to hospitalized veterans at VA sites and State Veterans Homes.