Thursday, January 8, 2009

You Must Be Able to Control Your Feelings

Today's edition of The New York Times reports on the Pentagon's decision to exclude soldiers with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from receiving the Purple Heart, the medal given those wounded or killed in combat. The honor, establish by General George Washington, reads

Let it be known that he who wears the military order of the purple heart has given of his blood in the defense of his homeland and shall forever be revered by his fellow countrymen.

Although various explanations are given for the formal denial of this award to mentally ill veterans, no one sites the assumption that those with purple hearts are
forever to be revered by his fellow countrymen.
But really, our society is not yet ready to overlook the heightened state of "fight or flight" experienced by PTSD sufferers. It really would be difficult to revere someone with uncontrolled rage or major depression. Few would look up to someone who cannot control her mental state and the receipt of a Purple Heart might loose its potency for other recipients of the hallowed award.

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