By Vince Little, The BayonetMay 25, 2011
FORT BENNING, Ga. (May 25, 2011) -- Army Secretary John McHugh has approved a policy allowing Soldiers to receive the Purple Heart for concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries not resulting in loss of consciousness.
Fort Benning personnel officials have reviewed the new standard and mapped out plans for implementation here. The measure, dated April 29, took effect immediately and is retroactive to September 2001.
“The recent decision by the secretary of the Army to expand the number of Soldiers who will now be eligible for the Purple Heart is because of the sheer numbers,” said Rich Madden, human resources supervisor at the Military Personnel Division’s Awards Branch for the garrison and Maneuver Center of Excellence. “Many men and women are suffering from mild traumatic brain injury and the Purple Heart is one way to recognize our heroes and show that the Army cares.”
He said the directive clarifies guidance regarding advancements in medical knowledge and treatment protocols to make sure they’re being applied consistently when considering recommendations for award of the Purple Heart as it applies to concussions, including mild traumatic brain and concussive injuries that do not result in a loss of consciousness.
It’s unclear how many current and former Soldiers at Fort Benning or across the Army might qualify now under the revised criteria, Madden said. So far, the change hasn’t triggered any new Purple Heart applications at the Awards Branch on post.
He said all Purple Heart requests must be processed through the Soldier’s personnel section and endorsed by his or her chain of command.
PURPLE HEART REQUIREMENTS
Soldiers who believe they’re eligible for the Purple Heart " but no award was made because of unusual circumstances " may submit an application through their chain of command to Fort Benning’s Military Personnel Division Awards Branch. To demonstrate the injury meets all the standards outlined in the Army directive and AR 600-8-22, and facilitate the issuance of orders and records update as required, the following documents must accompany each request:
• DA Form 4187 (Personnel Action)
• Chain-of-command endorsement (through the first general officer in the Soldier’s chain of command for those currently serving)
• Deployment orders
• Officer Record Brief/Enlisted Records Brief/DA Form 2-1, 2a, 2b or 2c
• One-page narrative describing the qualifying incident and conditions under which the Soldier was injured or wounded
• Statements from at least two individuals " other than the proposed recipient " who were personally present, observed the incident and have direct knowledge of the event. Alternatively, other official documentation may be used to corroborate the narrative.
• Casualty report
• SF 600 (chronological record of medical care)
• DD Form 214 (certificate of release or discharge from active duty) (if applicable)
For more information, contact the Military Personnel Division’s Awards Branch: Rich Madden at 706-545-5655 or Angela Cokeley at 706-545-8861.