Troops suffering from traumatic brain injury — one of the signature wounds of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — have long been eligible for the Purple Heart. But now the Pentagon is clarifying the rules:
1. The criteria for the Purple Heart award state that the injury must have been caused by enemy action, or in action against the enemy, and has to be of a degree requiring treatment by a medical officer.
2. The Pentagon allows the award of the Purple Heart even if a service member was not treated by a medical officer, as long as a medical officer certifies that the injury would have required treatment by a medical officer had one been available.
(The Marines have just issued guidelines for the new standard to cut down on cheap Purple Hearts:
Evaluation by a medical officer solely to determine the extent of an injury does not establish a requirement for treatment by a medical officer if the injury is determined to be at a level that could have been adequately treated by a corpsman (e.g., a medical officer examines x-rays of a Marine with a possible broken arm and returns the Marine to duty). Similarly, a decision by a medical officer to treat a minor wound that a corpsman could have adequately treated does not mean the wound required treatment by a medical officer.)
3. Retroactive reviews will cover injuries suffered since Sept. 11, 2001, including personnel no longer in the military.
Line forms on the left.