How to Receive a Purple Heart Medal

Purple Heart Against a Blurry American Flag.

The purple heart is one of the most storied and esteemed of all the medals awarded by the USA. It is a combat decoration, which is to say that it shows that a person carrying it has seen combat. Purple hearts are only awarded to US armed forces who have been wounded in war or otherwise at the hands of the enemy. They must have been injured while taking action against an enemy of the United States. 

This is important because it distinguishes injury or death as a result of battle from being injured or dying actively fighting against enemy forces in some way. On the occasion that a soldier dies of their injuries or prior to receiving the reward, it will be awarded posthumously to the next of kin. 

You only receive a Purple Heart when you receive your first wound. After that, you get an oak leaf cluster or 5/16 inch star. Only one award is made per injury. 

On What Occasions Might you Recieve a Purple Heart?

No member of the armed forces wants to receive a purple heart, but if you do get one, you can feel confident that you will be respected. Receiving a purple heart is no small sacrifice. Here are some occasions in which a member of the armed forces could be injured or killed in the line of duty in which a Purple Heart would be appropriate:

  • An action against an enemy of the United States
  • An action against opposing forces of a foreign country that the US is engaged with or has been engaged with
  • Serving with friendly forces that are engaged in conflict with an opposing force
  • As a result of an act of any of these enemies or opposing forces
  • Due to an act by a hostile foreign force. 

Are Purple Hearts Awarded in Terrorist Attacks?

As of 1973, Purple Hearts can be awarded as a result of terrorist attacks against the US or friendly foreign nation. They can also be awarded if military personnel is serving outside of the US in order to maintain peace. 

History of the Purple Heart

The Purple Heart is awarded to anyone who has served since 1917. It and its predecessor, the Badge of Military Merit, which was a purple cloth heart, are among the oldest military awards that are still given to members of the military today. George Washington established the Purple Heart and awarded it to select revolutionary war soldiers. It went out of fashion until the early 1900s, when it became a regularly used medal in the army. 

The Purple Heart went through several variations before finally arriving at the medal we recognize today, in the 1930s. Since then, this medal has never been sought after but always esteemed. Unlike many other awards, people are not recommended for Purple Hearts. Rather, a member of the military is entitled to a Purple Heart when they meet certain requirements. 

Military Order of the Purple Heart

The Military Order of the Purple Heart was founded in 1932. The goal was to form a veterans organization only for veterans who had seen and been injured in, combat. This special order only has members who hold the Purple Heart. They raise funds to help their members in a variety of ways. Funds are obtained through the collection of used household items, thrift stores, automobile donation, and monetary donations. 

The Honor of a Purple Heart

If you or a loved one has earned a Purple Heart, you should feel proud of the accomplishment. While these awards don’t indicate something you did, they do suggest the sacrifice that you made by getting injured while protecting your country. If you’ve misplaced your Purple Heart, you should look into how to receive a purple heart medal to replace it. This is a medal that you should be proud to show your loved ones.