Don’t slap that PTSD sufferer, General. Give him the Purple Heart!
Michael A. Cohen, Senior Research Fellow at New America Foundation, thinks the Pentagon is just plain mean for refusing to award Post Traumatic Stress Disorder victims the Purple Heart, a military decoration given in the name of the president to members of the Armed Forces killed or wounded in combat.
The original form of the award, invented by George Washington during the Revolutionary War, stated: “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.”
Mr. Cohen rejects the Pentagon’s (and George Washington’s) criteria of shedding blood for one’s country. For him, internal emotional suffering is quite enough.
Simply because their wounds are not evident to the naked eye does not mean they are not real and debilitating. In many respects, those who suffer from PTSD never truly recover and suffer through all sorts of deep psychological trauma. And as for the notion that it’s difficult to diagnose; perhaps the people who made this decision should crack open the latest copy of the DSM.
One would hope that in the 21st century, with all we’ve learned about the debilitating nature of mental illnesses, that these sort of simple-minded and uninformed characterizations of “war injuries” would be restricted to the peanut gallery. But instead they are seemingly driving Pentagon decision-making.
This failure to recognize PTSD has real consequences. Not only will those who are suffering not receive the added — and much-needed — medical benefits that come to Purple Heart recipients, but the stigma around mental illness in the military is only perpetuated by this action. One can only imagine the chilling effect that this decision will have on soldiers already uncomfortable about facing mental illness.
In the characteristic manner of pundits on the left, Mr. Cohen indignantly asserts the unproven and unprovable as a matter of established fact, pointing to the opinion of his ideological confreres, i.e., the liberal compilers of the American Psychiatric Association’s highly controversial and notorious for changing with the winds of fashion Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, as inarguably probative.
His unexpressed, even possibly unconscious, goal is really more egalitarianism. From the viewpoint of the left, concepts of individual responsibility and good character must be discredited and rejected. No one is really better than anyone else. Some are simply more privileged than others. It is the inferior, whose failures in war as in peace must be regarded as lying beyond his own control and treated as the basis for a claim against society, who must be championed and decorated.
In her recently published journals, Susan Sontag writes (1957, p.131):
One of the main strands in modern literature (and in modern politics – DZ) is diabolism — that is, self-conscious inversion of moral values. This is not nihilism, the denial of moral values, but their inversion: still rule-bound, only now a “morality of evil” instead of a “morality of good.”
Hat tip to Excitable Andrew.