4
| News |

Wounded warriors: Help yourself to big-game hunting, but don't expect a purple heart

^
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

America loves its wounded soldiers. So much so that the Colorado Wildlife Commission will offer free big-game hunting licenses this fall to Colorado veterans severely wounded in action overseas over the past nine years.

Still, that might not be much consolation for possibly thousands of soldiers the Army has apparently denied the Purple Heart.

According to a ProPublica and NPR investigation, Army commanders regularly deny Purple Hearts, the medal bestowed upon soldiers killed or wounded in battle, to those who sustained mild traumatic brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2008, the top medical commander in Iraq even told medics to not even discuss the Purple Heart with such soldiers.

Traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder and other kinds of psychological damage have become the signature wounds of the wars in Iraq in Afghanistan. But because the Army has struggled with acknowledging and treating the injuries, many ailing soldiers have fallen through the cracks, leaving it up to overworked veterans advocates and innovative civilian treatment programs to try to help them.

Still, according to the ProPublica/NPR investigation, there doesn't seem to be much question as to whether soldiers with mild traumatic brain injuries should get Purple Hearts. According to Army regulations, concussion injuries caused by enemy explosions "clearly justify" the medal.

So how many wounded veterans have been shafted? The Army hasn't been keeping track, but nearly 25,000 soldiers have been awarded Purple Hearts for wounds in Iraq and Afghanistan, while about 90,000 Army soldiers have sustained mild traumatic brain injuries there.

Even without this badge of honor and sacrifice, wounded soldiers in Colorado will still able to blast away at deer, elk and pronghorn courtesy of Colorado Senate Bill 10-211 and the Colorado Wildlife Commission. This fall, participants in the Army's Wounded Warrior programs will score free big-game licenses for private-land hunting, capped at five licenses per game management unit or 2 percent of the total, whichever is greater. Those interested in participating should contact Erik Slater at 303-291-7380.

"Offering free big-game licenses is just a small token of the gratitude we all feel toward the men and women who have served our country so courageously," said Wildlife Commission chairman Tim Glenn in a press release. "We want them to know their sacrifice will not be forgotten."

Well, not completely forgotten.

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.

 

Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.