The Purple Heart is awarded to servicemembers who are killed or wounded in combat. However, modern realities and the evolving nature of conflict raise questions about who’s eligible to receive the award.
Specifically, there’s been some debate regarding the victims of shootings in military installations in America — such as the Fort Hood and Little Rock recruiting station incidents. Additionally, veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) should be eligible to receive the award.
This isn’t the first time eligibility criteria are questioned. In the past, efforts by various individuals and pressure groups sought to reform the award. Some changes were made as a result. For instance, servicemembers killed or wounded during a terrorist attack are now eligible to receive a Purple Heart. However, every time, veteran groups opposed eligibility modifications, arguing that potential changes would diminish the sacrifices of past recipients.
Due to the recent debate regarding PTSD and TBI victims, Congress reconsidered eligibility criteria once again — an interesting development, given that historically, military decorations fall under the purview of the executive branch. To assist their efforts, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) conducted a study in an attempt to pinpoint the more contentious topics should American lawmakers decide to reform.