Navy Updates Purple Heart Award Policy

Story Number: NNS111215-22Release Date: 12/15/2011 1:48:00 PM
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From Secretary of the Navy Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- In response to advances in the diagnosis and treatment of mild traumatic brain injuries, the secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) discussed updates to the standards and procedures for awarding the Purple Heart Dec. 15, one of the military's most recognized awards.

"In light of recent research, military neurologists have discovered the scope of mild traumatic brain injuries is wider than previously thought," said SECNAV Ray Mabus. "Wounds suffered while defending our nation, whether seen or unseen, deserve our utmost gratitude and respect."

The standards provided in the ALNAV message are consistent with historic standards and previous awards of the Purple Heart since World War II, when the award was first authorized for the Navy and Marine Corps.

"Sailors and Marines may be awarded the Purple Heart for certain mild traumatic brain injuries that were caused by enemy action" explained Jim Nierle, president, Navy Department Board of Decorations and Medals. "If they suffered a loss of consciousness, or had to be given the disposition of 'not fit for full duty' by a medical officer for a period greater than 48 hours after a concussive event, they may qualify for the Purple Heart."

Purple Hearts awarded for MTBI will continue to meet the historical standards of severity applied to all types of wounds, ensuring the prestige of the award is maintained. Applying these standards to MTBI, the concussive event must have been caused either directly or indirectly by an enemy action with intent to kill or maim.

To learn more about Purple Heart award standards and procedures, read ALNAV 079/11.

For more news from Secretary of the Navy, visit

12/20/2011 1:17:00 PM
I believe that the Department of The Navy has issued the Purple Heart less than any other Service Department. The Purple Heart is limited to actual physical wounds and recently minimal concussions (long overdue). I would ask that the Navy consider issuing the Purple Heart to all Navy Veterans and Service Members who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

12/20/2011 11:02:00 AM
Well awhile ago, there was talk of awarding a Purple Heart to PTSD sufferers byI believe, SECNAV after receiving a letter from some therapist/psychiatrist. The reason being that, the condition was life changing with no cure, it was a permanent condition and that the veteran would have to live with this the rest of his life. It was tabled quickly by other people who said that there was no blood shed and to keep the qualifications the same. How many TBI's have shed blood?

12/17/2011 5:15:00 PM
If you actually read the article you will see that it may only be awarded when "caused by enemy action". One of my Sailors had to be medically discharged due to TBIs from multiple IEDs, and I would think that he rates a Purple Heart.

12/16/2011 2:04:00 PM
I wonder if Gen Patton would approve? Does the kid in Sicily get a PH now?

12/15/2011 4:54:00 PM
SECNAV is wrong. Injuries don't rate reverence or thanks; heroic Navy people do.

12/15/2011 2:54:00 PM
Why don't you automatically enter a purple heart medal in there SRB's before they deploy to theater grunts, pogs, supply, whoever, God I got PTSD from issueing so much gear from supply, or changing tires on so many vehicles. Great job Maybus your a joke.

12/15/2011 2:47:00 PM
You gotta be kidding me!! So when I hit my head on top of a HMMWV on a bumpy road and knock myself out I get a purple heart huh/. COOOL You people are something else.

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Five U.S. Navy Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion One Three Three (NMCB-133) are presented with the Purple Heart.
Official U.S. Navy file photo.
May 10, 2006
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