Local Veterans react to Purple Heart decision

By: Coleman Swierc - email / bio

"It brings back a lot of bad memories," recalled Purple Heart reciepient Jerry Whiteker.

It is one of the highest honors awarded by the U.S. Military. The Purple Heart honors those wounded or killed in combat.

Today in Washington, Pentagon leaders said that only physical, not emotional injuries, make a soldier eligible for the Purple Heart, ruling out veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

"I do feel that there is a mental side to that, and that the regulations should be changed," says retired Army veteran Bennie Moye.

Moye served in Korea and Vietnam, and he says the decision is wrong, believing that not only do injuries hurt the body, but also the mind.

"There is a mental side to it, and i do feel that there are a lot of guys who are broken down mentally because of that."

"You dog gone right, (they deserve the honor) that is exactly how I feel."

Jerry Whiteker was awarded a Purple Heart, after being wounded in combat, his thoughts are with those who were mentally scarred.

"I don't think it takes away from their service at all, but i think in certain instances that they need to be compenstated."

Whiteker continued, "I do not think that it should be limited, I really don't. I know that those injuries exist, they are out there."

Not not everyone shares that opinion, some military vets agree with the decision. The Purple Heart should be for the physically injured.

"People are upset, but the Army made the right decision," said retired veteran Harry Conway.

"If you bring in Post Traumatic Stress and other things into it, then you are taking away from what the medal was designed for," Conway stated,  "it should be for wounds, if you are shot or hit by shrapnel, that is what the purple heart is for, that you physically bleed."

The Pentagon ruled out post traumatic stress disorder, saying "The condition is not intentionally caused by enemy action, as is the case with a bullet or bomb, and because it is difficult to diagnose and quantify.

As of 2008, nearly 300,000 veterans were diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The Pentagon said that given more time and research, they would re-evaluate the possiblity for those veterans to recieve the Purple Heart.