Veterans awarded a Purple Heart receive it during a Purple Heart ceremony. The Purple Heart is a combat decoration given in the name of the U.S. President to members of the U.S. Armed Forces who get wounded in war or die in action or from injuries sustained in action. When awarded posthumously, it is given to the next of kin.
George Washington, who was then the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, established the original Purple Heart in 1782, which was then called the Badge of Military Merit. Estimates place the highest number of Purple Hearts awarded for World War II with 1,076,245, followed by the Vietnam War with 351,794 and World War I with 320,518. Since 1984, soldiers can receive the Purple Heart when wounded in a terrorist attack or while in the service of a peacekeeping force.
Injuries or wounds that do not entitle a soldier for the Purple Heart include frostbite, heat stroke, food poisoning not caused by the enemy, chemical, biological, or nuclear agents not from the enemy, and battle fatigue. Other ineligible injuries include disease not due to enemy agents, accidental wounding not related to enemy action, self-inflicted wounds caused by gross negligence and post-traumatic stress disorder. Among famous Purple Heart recipients are the actor Charles Bronson, President John F. Kennedy, Secretary of State John Kerry, movie director Oliver Stone and Arizona Senator John McCain. Marine Sergeant Albert Ireland holds the record for receiving the most Purple Hearts; five for service in World War II and four in the Korean War.