Why are soldiers issued a Purple Heart?


Quick Answer

The United States awards the Purple Heart to military personnel who are wounded or killed in combat. First awarded in 1932 to General Douglas MacArthur, the Purple Heart is the oldest military award still available to active personnel, as of 2015.

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Full Answer

The Purple Heart originally recognized only personnel who had been wounded, not killed, while in combat with enemy forces. In 1962, President Kennedy issued an executive order that allowed for the posthumous receipt of the Purple Heart. In 1984, President Reagan expanded the Purple Heart's criteria to cover personnel wounded or killed in terrorist attacks or while serving with a peacekeeping force. In 1985, Congress amended the award's criteria to include personnel wounded or killed by friendly fire.

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