Army clarifies standards for awarding of Purple Heart for mild TBI

The Army on Friday issued a directive clarifying standards for awarding the Purple Heart medal to soldiers with mild traumatic brain injury.

The instruction follows a recent change by the Marine Corps that removed the requirement that Marines be knocked unconscious to qualify for a Purple Heart for TBI, a potentially debilitating condition often caused by blasts.

Combat stress as 'moral injury' offends Marines

SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- The new buzzwords in the mental health community for types of combat stress are "moral injury" -- and some Marines don't really care for the label.

On the third day of the Navy and Marine Corps' annual conference on combat and operational stress control, moral injury was the guiding topic. One Marine commander roped into a panel discussion at the last minute bluntly took issue with the phrase: "As a Marine, I'm insulted."

Defense Department clarifies Purple Heart criteria for brain injury

WASHINGTON – On the heels of a Marine Corps announcement that revised the criteria for awarding a Purple Heart medal for mild traumatic brain injuries, the Pentagon on Wednesday issued guidance to clear up any confusion about department-wide standards for the medal.

The Defense Department’s criteria state that the injury must have been caused by enemy action or have occurred during an engagement with the enemy. Secondly, the injury must have been severe enough to have required a medical officer’s treatment. That applies even if no officer was present to provide care, officials said.

Critics jab Pentagon press secretary’s ruined Easter

WASHINGTON – Careful the things you tweet; new media critics will listen.

A bit of Easter Sunday snark tweeted by Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell, a Twitter neophyte, has drawn some guffaws from the international blogosphere. Morrell’s reaction to late-breaking Sunday news reports on a Wikileaks dump of classified information, this time about the treatment of nearly every Guantanamo prisoner since 2002, did not go unnoticed.

Many Marines qualify retroactively for Purple Hearts for brain injuries

It’s no longer necessary for Marines to get knocked cold in order to qualify for a Purple Heart for a mild traumatic brain injury. A recent change in policy acknowledges the fact that serious injury may occur even without a loss of consciousness.

The new rules only require a Marine to have been treated by a medical officer and declared not fit for duty for at least 48 hours due to a wound suffered at the hands of the enemy, or in an engagement against the enemy.

Congressman wants remains of 13 sailors buried in Tripoli returned

WASHINGTON – For more than 200 years, the remains of 13 U.S. sailors have been interred in Tripoli, and now a congressman is calling on the Defense Department to bring them home.

The USS Intrepid exploded and sank in 1804 while on a mission during the First Barbary War to destroy the Tripolitan Fleet. The captain and 12 volunteer officers were killed.

Afghan prison break ranks among world's largest

The inmates at Sarposa prison in Kandahar do hard time. At least some of them sleep on rough concrete floors. As for the food, well, we haven’t had the pleasure, but news reports from three years ago say 47 prisoners stitched their mouths shut to ensure they wouldn’t or couldn’t break a hunger strike.

Still, Sarposa prison has at least one thing going for it from an inmate’s perspective. If mass prison escapes were an Olympic event, Sarposa inmates would be among the world’s elite athletes.

Civilian doctors see more combat brain injuries

With half of returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who seek medical care opting not to use the health benefits they’re entitled to at the Department of Veterans Affairs, civilian doctors are treating more and more patients with combat-related traumatic brain injury.

What’s more, patients who suffered TBI in combat have proven harder to treat, and have less chance of being completely cured, than civilians with TBI.

Guard soldiers to get more demobilization time