Friday, January 9, 2009

No Purple Hearts for PTSD

Does a U.S. soldier who has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) deserve a Purple Heart? The question has sparked a heated debate in the military community.

Stars and Stripes, the American Forces Press Service and the New York Times report that the Defense Department recently rejected the idea.

A Purple Heart is only awarded when a soldier with one of the U.S. Armed Services is wounded or killed by enemy action.
Army Regulation 600-8-22 defines a wound as “an injury to any part of the body from an outside force or agent.” The wound “must have required treatment by a medical officer.”

The regulation lists PTSD as an injury that clearly does not meet these requirements. The Purple Heart has never been awarded for mental or psychological problems.

In a
May article in Stars and Stripes a military psychologist argued for a change in the policy. He said that PTSD is in part a physical disorder because it damages the brain.

The idea got the attention of
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. This prompted a review of the policy and stoked the debate.

Common signs of PTSD include feelings of intense fear and horror after a terrifying event. Sometimes this response is delayed. Symptoms may not appear until a few days or even weeks after the event.

Recurring
nightmares tend to be most disturbing aspect of PTSD. In these dreams the event may be relived in a way that seems shockingly real.

Most people with PTSD also report having disturbed sleep. It can be very hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. This is known as “
adjustment insomnia.”

About half of people with PTSD get better within three months. For others it can be a lifelong problem.

What do you think? Are veterans with PTSD being overlooked?

1 comment:

Casey said...

its funny b/c the def of a purple heart does not say " physical attack" just says injury to any part of the body from an outside force.

I think they should, my husband has SEVERE PTSD, to the point he hardly sleeps b/c of the nightmares from his tours, his life pattern is now messed up. I think they need to consider it HIGHLY b/c there are thousands of men and women who suffer just like my husband.

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