Can service members with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) receive the Purple Heart?

Published: 03/04/19 | Updated: 03/21/19

The Defense Department has determined that based on current Purple Heart criteria, PTSD is not a qualifying Purple Heart wound. This decision is based on the Purple Heart criteria as listed in the United States Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 32. 

The Purple Heart recognizes those individuals wounded to a degree that requires treatment by a medical officer, in action with the enemy or as the result of enemy action where the intended effect of a specific enemy action is to kill or injure the service member. PTSD is defined as an anxiety disorder caused by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event; it is not a wound intentionally caused by the enemy from an "outside force or agent," but is a secondary effect caused by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. 

Service members diagnosed with PTSD still warrant appropriate medical care and disability compensation. The Department is working hard to reduce the stigma associated with PTSD and to encourage service members and their families to seek professional care. 

For more information on how the Defense Department cares for and recognizes our wounded service members, please visit the Warrior Care site at: