SAN DIEGO - In an impassioned Op-Ed penned to the Washington Post, combat veteran and former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher proposed changing the requirements to receive the Purple Heart.
“I know this proposal is controversial, but if I could celebrate with more friends on Veterans Day then on Memorial Day… it would be worth it,” Fletcher told FOX 5 on Memorial Day.
Military personnel who are eligible to receive the Purple Heart were wounded or killed in action against an enemy of the United States or as a result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed forces.
Fletcher suggested opening the requirements to military personnel who suffered mental injuries in combat.
"This Memorial Day, we honor Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives during service to their country. This recognition should include veterans who survived war but could not survive the peace that followed because of very real mental injuries suffered in combat. At least 20 veterans commit suicide every day in the United States. These are lives lost to war, and we must account for them today," Fletcher wrote, using statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In Fletcher's write-up, he took aim at the veteran suicide crisis and argued addressing the unseen scars of post-traumatic stress disorder could remove the stigma around the disease.
"I know Marines who were given the Purple Heart as a lifetime honor for injuries bearing no lasting scars or impact. But Marines who served beside them in that same combat situation suffering from devastating post-traumatic stress get no recognition and no medal and are cast into the shadows."