Advocacy group wants PTSD-stricken troops to get the Purple Heart

A mental illness advocacy group wants the Pentagon to award Purple Hearts to those affected with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness called for the troops to be honored, and says the Veterans Affairs Department, as well as the general public, must also do their part to support PTSD-stricken vets, too.The group also called on the Veterans Health Administration to expand its treatment options.

NAMI wants shellshocked vets to be treated "with the same level of appreciation and recognition as those awarded to warriors with visible wounds."

A Purple Heart is currently awarded to those who receive injury while defending against the enemy, with the injury requiring treatment by a medical officer. There has been ongoing debate by the medical community concerning whether combat-related PTSD could be caused by microscopic brain changes during an blast wave, physiological stress, or psychological reaction to trauma.

"NAMI is drawing a line in the sand with the Department of Defense," NAMI Executive Director Michael Fitzpatrick told ArmyTimes. "Troops with invisible wounds are heroes. It’s time to honor them. It will also strike a tremendous blow against the stigma that often discourages individuals from seeking help when they need it," he continued.

The Pentagon has yet to award the Purple Heart to troops with PTSD, saying the disorder is difficult to diagnose, and symptoms are not always linked to one action or an enemy.

In an earlier report, the group also said the Department of Defense should "forcibly end discrimination associated with invisible wounds of war."

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