Wounds of war

The Wall Street Journal carries discussion of whether soldiers wounded psychologically should be given the Purple Heart or not.

… with an increasing number of troops being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, the modern military is debating an idea Gen. Washington never considered — awarding one of the nation’s top military citations to veterans with psychological wounds, not just physical ones.

While many, especially families of the wounded warriors, are pressing for this award to go to victims of PTSD, The Rev. Robert Certain, retired Air Force colonel and Episcopal priest who preached the homily at the funeral of President Gerald Ford has mixed feelings about the question.

The question of whether veterans suffering from PTSD should be eligible for the Purple Heart is a deeply emotional issue for military personnel and their families.

Robert Certain is a retired Air Force colonel who was shot down over Hanoi, Vietnam, in 1972 and held as a prisoner of war. He received a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts and later became an Air Force chaplain and Episcopal priest.

Mr. Certain suffered severe depression in the 1980s and was formally diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2000.

Mr. Certain says that he is conflicted about whether veterans with PTSD should be eligible for the Purple Heart. In his own case, the disorder wasn’t diagnosed until decades after the Vietnam War ended but he believes that making troops suffering from the disorder eligible for the award might persuade more of them to seek help.

In an email, he wrote: “The scars resulting from PTSD are almost all invisible to the observer, but always obvious to the warrior who has them.

Read it all here.

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