Reschenthaler Leads Effort to Honor Purple Heart Recipients
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Congressman Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) led a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin requesting the Department of Defense (DOD) list Purple Heart (PH) recipients on their valor awards website. The DOD created this website to honor servicemembers awarded distinguished military medals and reduce the number of incidents of those fraudulently claiming to have received certain awards of valor. Congressmen Conor Lamb (PA-17), Mike Kelly (PA-16), and Mike Doyle (PA-18) co-signed the letter.
"As a Navy veteran, I am proud to lead this bipartisan effort to honor Purple Heart recipients and commit to recognizing the bravery and sacrifices of future servicemembers," said Congressman Reschenthaler. "By listing Purple Heart recipients on the Department of Defense's valor awards website, we continue the time-honored tradition of recognizing these brave men and women and ensuring they have access to the resources they need from veteran service organizations. As our country remembers our fallen servicemembers this Memorial Day, I am honored to lead this effort to recognize Purple Heart recipients and all of the brave men and women in our military who made the ultimate sacrifice."
“The men and women who have received Purple Heart medals for being wounded or killed following 9/11 earned recognition for their sacrifice,” said Congressman Kelly. “I am proud to join my colleagues in calling on the Department of Defense to create an online database and website that lists these brave Americans to whom we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude.”
“As someone whose father fought in World War II and came home with a 100 percent service-connected disability, I know first-hand the sacrifices that many service-members have made for our country,” Congressman Doyle said. “That’s why I think it’s so important that we take this important step to recognize those men and women who’ve received the Purple Heart.”
"The National Flag Foundation is grateful for Congressman Reschenthaler's leadership in taking a long overdue step toward honoring our nation's Purple Heart veterans,” said Romel L. Nicholas, Chairman of the National Flag Foundation. “With critical bipartisan support from Representatives Kelly, Lamb, and Doyle, and as we head into the Memorial Day holiday, I am enthusiastic that this endeavor – better honoring and supporting those who have sacrificed the most for our country – is exactly the type of effort all Americans can agree upon. This effort would not have been possible without the tremendous support of over a dozen partnering veterans service organizations, which National Flag Foundation thanks and looks forward to working with in the weeks and months ahead."
“On behalf of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, a Congressionally chartered veteran service organization dedicated to supporting Purple Heart recipients, veterans and their families, we are excited to support Congressman Reschenthaler's critical efforts to improve our veterans service mission,” said James McCormick, National Vice Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. “More than ever, Purple Heart recipients are in need of various resources and broad-based support as they return to civilian life. Creating a database to identify verified Purple Heart recipients will not only serve to honor their tremendous sacrifice, but it will also empower our communities with better ability to give them the thanks and support they deserve.”
Currently, DOD's valor awards website recognizes our nation's warfighters awarded the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, and Silver Star for acts of valor. Unfortunately, as the website does not currently list PH recipients, fraud is still occurring by individuals claiming to be recipients of the PH.
Additionally, in the absence of a PH database, veteran service organizations struggle to identify individuals in need of their resources. Many organizations supporting this effort seek to improve services for PH recipients.
Purple Heart Background
On August 7, 1782, General George Washington established the "Badge of Military Merit," the figure of a heart in purple cloth or silk, edged with narrow lace or binding over the left breast, for meritorious action. This precursor to the PH ceased use after the end of the American Revolution.
On February 22, 1932, the War Department established the PH medal for wounds received in action and meritorious duty. It was later updated to include servicemembers who suffered combat wounds or death. According to the Military Order of the Purple Heart, a congressionally chartered organization, there are approximately 350,000 living PH recipients ranging from World War II veterans to veterans of the recent wars against terrorism.
In 2022, the U.S. will celebrate the 240th anniversary of then-General George Washington awarding the first precursor of the PH and the 90th anniversary of General Douglas MacArthur re-establishing the PH.