AR 600-8-22 / 25 February 1995

2-8. Purple Heart
The Purple Heart was established by General George Washington, at Newburgh, New York, on 7 August 1782, during the Revolutionary War. It was reestablished by the President of the United States per War Department General Orders 3, 1932 and is currently awarded pursuant to Executive Order 11016, 25 April 1962, Executive Order 12464, 23 February 1984 and Public Law 98-525, 19 October 1984.
a. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the President of the United States to any member of an
Armed Force or any civilian national of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with one of the U.S. Armed Services after 5 April 1917, has been wounded or killed, or who has died or may hereafter die after being wounded

(1) In any action against an enemy of the United States.

(2) In any action with an opposing armed force of a foreign country in which the Armed Forces of the United States are or have been engaged.

(3) While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

(4) As a result of an act of any such enemy of opposing armed forces.

(S) As the result of an act of any hostile foreign force.

(6) After 28 March 1973, as a result of an international terrorist attack against the United States or a foreign nation friendly to the United States, recognized as such an attack by the Secretary of the Army, or jointly by the Secretaries of the separate armed Services concerned if persons from more than one service are wounded in the attack.

(7) After 28 March 1973, as a result of military operations while serving outside the territory of the United States as part of a peacekeeping force.

b. While clearly an individual decoration, the Purple Heart differs from all other decorations in that an individual is not "recommended" for the decoration; rather he or she is entitled to it upon meeting specific criteria.

(1) A Purple Heart is authorized for the first wound suffered under conditions indicated above, but for each subsequent award an Oak Leaf Cluster will be awarded to be worn on the medal or ribbon. Not more than one award will be made for more than one wound or injury received at the same instant or from the same missile, force, explosion, or agent.

(2) A wound is defined as an injury to any part of the body from an outside force or agent sustained under one or more of the conditions listed above A physical lesion is not required, however, the wound for which the award is made must have required treatment by a medical officer and records of medical treatment for wounds or injuries received in action must have been made a matter of official record.

(3) When contemplating an award of this decoration, the key issue that commanders must take into consideration is the degree to which the enemy caused the injury. The fact that the proposed recipient was participating in direct or indirect combat operations is a necessary prerequisite, but is not sole justification for award.

(4) Examples of enemy-related injuries which clearly justify award of the Purple Heart are as follows:

(a) Injury caused by enemy bullet, shrapnel, or other projectile created by enemy action.

(b) Injury caused by enemy placed mine or trap.

(c) Injury caused by enemy released chemical, biological or nuclear agent.

(d) Injury caused by vehicle or aircraft accident resulting from enemy fire.

(e) Concussion injuries caused as a result of enemy generated explosions.

(5) Examples of injuries or wounds which clearly do not qualify for award of the Purple Heart are as follows:

(a) Frostbite or trench foot injuries.

(b) Heat stroke.

(c) Food poisoning not caused by enemy agents.

(d) Chemical, biological, or nuclear agents not released by the enemy.

(e) Battle fatigue.

(f) Disease not directly caused by enemy agents.

(g) Accidents, to include explosive, aircraft, vehicular, and other accidental wounding not related to or caused by enemy action.

(h) Self-inflicted wounds, except when in the heat of battle, and not involving gross negligence.

(i) Post traumatic stress disorders.

(j) Jump injuries not caused by enemy action.

(6) It is not intended that such a strict interpretation of the requirement for the wound or injury to be caused by direct result of hostile action be taken that it would preclude the award being made to deserving personnel. Commanders must also take into consideration, the circumstances surrounding an injury, even if it appears to meet the criteria. Note the following examples:

(a) In case such as an individual injured while making a parachute landing from an aircraft that had been brought down enemy fire; or, an individual injured as a result of a vehicle accident caused by enemy fire, the decision will be made in favor of the individual and the award will be made.

(b) Individuals wounded or killed as a result of "friendly fire" in the "heat of battle" will be awarded the Purple Heart as long as the "friendly" projectile or agent was released with the full intent of inflicting damage or destroying enemy troops or equipment.

(c) Individuals injured as a result of their own negligence; for example, driving or walking through an unauthorized area known to have been mined or placed off limits or searching for or picking up unexploded munitions as war souvenirs, will not be awarded the Purple Heart as they clearly were not injured as a result of enemy action, but rather by their own negligence.

c. A Purple Heart will be issued to the next of kin of each person entitled to a posthumous award. Issue will be made automatically by the Commanding General, PERSCOM, upon receiving a report of death indicating entitlement.

d. Upon written application to Commander, ARPERCEN, ATIN.- DAR-P-VSEA, 9700 Page Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63132-5200, award may be made to any member of the Army, who during World War 1, was awarded a Meritorious Service Citation Certificate signed by the Commander in Chief, American Expeditionary Forces, or who was authorized to wear wound chevrons. Posthumous awards to personnel who were killed or died of wounds after 5 April 1917 will be made to the appropriate next of kin upon application to the Commanding General, PERSCOM.

e. Any member of the Army who was awarded the Purple Heart for meritorious achievement or service, as opposed to wounds received in action, between 7 December 1941 and 22 September 1943, may apply for award of an appropriate decoration instead of the Purple Heart.

f. For those who became Prisoners of War after 25 April 1962, the Purple Heart will be awarded to individuals wounded while prisoners of foreign forces, upon submission by the individual to the Department of the U.S. Army of an affidavit that is supported by a statement from a witness, if this is possible. Documentation and inquiries Should be directed to Commander, PERSCOM, ATTN: TAPCPDA, Alexandria, VA 22332-0471.

g. Any member of the U.S. Army who believes that he or she is eligible for the Purple Heart, but through unusual circumstances no award was made, may submit an application through military channels, to Commander, PERSCOM, ATTN: TAPC-PDA, Alexandria, VA 22332-0471. Application will include complete documentation, to include evidence of medical treatment, pertaining to the wound.

h. The Purple Heart may be awarded to civilian nationals of the United States. These individuals must be serving under competent authority with the Army when wounded. Serving under competent authority with the Army will include those eligible persons who are employees of the U.S. Government in a duty (pay or official travel) status when wounds are sustained. Examples of eligible individuals are as follows:

(1) Any Army employee who is traveling outside of the continental limits of the United States on PCS or temporary duty (TDY) aboard a commercial aircraft and wounded by international terrorists in an attempted or actual hijacking incident.

(2) An Army employee in an Army office building performing his or her job who is wounded by an explosive device detonated by international terrorists.

(3) A civil or foreign service employee from a U.S. Government agency attached to an Army element performing intelligence, counter-terrorist, or other duties with the Army wounded by international terrorists.

(4) An Army employee wounded in an international terrorist incident in which a soldier or soldiers, are also wounded.


PUBLIC LAW 104-106 - FEB. 10, 1996

(a) AWARD OF PURPLE HEART.—For purposes of the award of the Purple Heart, the Secretary concerned (as defined in section 101 of title 10, United States Code) shall treat a former prisoner of war who was wounded before April 25, 1962, while held as a prisoner of war (or while being taken captive) in the same manner as a former prisoner of war who is wounded on or after that date while held as a prisoner of war (or while being taken captive).

(b) STANDARDS FOR AWARD.—An award of the Purple Heart under subsection (a) shall be made in accordance with the standards in effect on the date of the enactment of this Act for the award of the Purple Heart to persons wounded on or after April 25, 1962.

(C) ELIGIBLE FORMER PRISONERS OF WAR.—A person shall be considered to be a former prisoner of war for purposes of this section if the person is eligible for the prisoner-of-war meda1 under section 1128 of title 10, United States Code.

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The Purple Heart - Then and Now

Attached to the piece of dark blue cloth is a purple heart of silk, bound with braid and edged with lace. The cloth is believed to be part of the uniform or the tunic of a soldier of the Continental Army.

There is no name, rank or regimental insignia on the piece of cloth. The Purple Heart is displayed in Washington, DC, at the Society of the Cincinnati's Anderson House Museum and another at the New Windsor Cantonment site at New Windsor, New York. The Purple Heart itself is what signified a hero of the Revolutionary War.

The Purple Heart was awarded to three soldiers - Sgts. Elijah Churchill, William Brown, and Daniel Bissell Jr. On May 3, 1783, Churchill and Brown received the Purple Heart, then called the Badge of Military Merit, from Gen. George Washington, its designer and creator. Bissell received his on June 10, 1783. These three are the only known recipients of the award during the Revolutionary War.

On August 7, 1782, at his Newburgh, New York headquarters, Washington devised two badges of distinction to be worn by enlisted men and noncommissioned officers. The first was a chevron to be worn on the left sleeve of the coat. It signified loyal military service. Three years of service with "bravery, fidelity and good conduct" were the criteria for earning this badge; two chevrons meant six years of service.

The second, named the Badge of Military Merit, was the "figure of a heart in purple cloth or silk edged with narrow lace or binding." This badge was for "any singularly meritorious action" and permitted the wearer to pass guards and sentinels without challenge. The honoree's name and regiment were inscribed in a Book of Merit.

After the Revolutionary War, no more Americans soldiers received the Badge of Military Merit. It was not until October 10, 1927, that Army Chief of Staff, General Charles P. Summerall, directed a draft bill to be sent to Congress "to revive the Badge of Military Merit."

The Army withdrew the bill on January 3, 1928, but the Office of the Adjutant General filed all correspondence for possible future use.

Although a number of private efforts were made to have the medal reinstituted, it wasn't until January 7, 1931 that Summerall's successor General Douglas MacArthur, confidentially reopened the case. His object was to have a new medal issued on the bicentennial of George Washington's birth.

Miss Elizabeth Will, in the Office of the Quartermaster General, created the design from guidelines provided her. The only difference in her design is that a sprig appeared where the profile of Washington is on the present Purple Heart.

John R. Sinnick of the Philadelphia Mint made the plaster model in May 1931. The War Department announced the new award on February 22, 1932.

After the award was reinstated, recipients of a Meritorious Service Citation Certificate during World War I, along with other eligible soldiers, could exchange their award for the Purple Heart.

At the same time, revisions to Army regulations defined the conditions of the award.

"A wound which necessitates treatment by a medical officer and which is received in action with an enemy, may in the judgment of the commander authorized to make the award be construed as resulting from a singularly meritorious act of essential service." At that time the Navy Department did not authorize the issue of the Purple Heart, but Franklin D. Roosevelt amended that. By Executive Order on December 3, 1942, the award was extended to the Navy, Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard beginning December 6, 1941.

President Harry S. Truman retroactively extended eligibility to the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard to April 5, 1917, to cover World War I.

President John F. Kennedy extended eligibility on April 25, 1962, to "any civilian national of the United States who, while serving under competent authority in any capacity with an armed force..., has been, or may hereafter be, wounded."

President Ronald Regan, on February 23, 1984, amended President Kennedy's order, to include those wounded or killed as a result of "an international terrorist attack."

Army regulations, amended June 20, 1969, state that any "member of the Army who was awarded the Purple Heart for meritorious achievement or service, as opposed to wounds received in action, between December 7, 1941 and September 22, 1943, may apply for award of an appropriate decoration in lieu of the Purple Heart."

There are no records of the first individual who received the revived and redesigned Purple Heart. Local posts of the American Legion and the Adjutant Generals of state National Guards both held ceremonies to honor recipients.

What Washington wrote in his orderly book on August 7, 1782 still stands today:

"The road to glory in a patriot army and a free country is thus open to all. This order is also to have retrospect to the earliest stages of the war, and to be considered a permanent one."

Shortly after the award was re-instituted a group of combat wounded veterans in Ansonia, Connecticut, formed the first chapter of the civilian organization whose membership was composed of recipients of the decoration. Their action gave birth to a fraternal body which, until then, had been just a record on paper. The living organization grew rapidly during and after World War II and is now a nationwide body. It became known as the "MILITARY ORDER OF THE PURPLE HEART of the United States of America, Inc." (M.O.P.H.) The organization was chartered by Congress by H.R. 13558 which became Public Law 85-761, on August 26, 1958.

The M.O.P.H. maintains its' national headquarters in Springfield, Virginia, and has chapters throughout the United States. The organization represents veterans' interests before Congress, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense, and elsewhere.

In addition, the Order is proud of its key role in the National Service Program. The Order maintains a full time National Service Director who supervises the over 300 salaried and volunteer service officers. All Purple Heart Service Officers have been accredited by the Veterans Administration. They provide assistance and representation for all veterans, their dependents and survivors, in obtaining their rightful entitlements and benefits. All service is FREE.

For additional information about the Purple Heart






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