Army Will Now Award the Purple Heart for a Perforated Eardrum

An array of Purple Heart medals laid out on velvet background
19 Purple Hearts lie on velvet ready to be awarded to soldiers of the 39th Brigade Combat Team for wounds received while fighting in Iraq. (Staff Sgt. Rebekah-Mae Bruns/U.S. Army photo)

Jim Absher is a benefits columnist.

An update to Army regulations makes active-duty members and veterans who suffered a perforated eardrum during combat service entitled to the Purple Heart. Previously, a perforated eardrum was not a qualifying injury for the military's oldest award, which is given to those who suffer a combat-related injury in service to their nation..

The Army Human Resources Command (HRC) made the announcement in a Facebook post Tuesday. That same post outlined some of the requirements that must be met to qualify for the award and the process members should take to apply for the medal.

The official regulations, contained in MILPER 22-215, state that service members and veterans who were previously denied the Purple Heart for a perforated eardrum must submit a new request for the award. Going forward, any soldier suffering a perforated eardrum in qualifying service will be eligible for the Purple Heart without having to request it through their command.

Currently, those seeking a retroactive award or a reconsideration of a previous denial for the award must apply for consideration.

Required documentation that a service member or veteran must provide with their application includes:

  1. DA Form 4187 (for currently serving members) or written request (for veterans).
  2. Chain of command endorsement (through the first general officer in the soldier's current chain of command for currently serving members).
  3. Deployment orders.
  4. DA Form 4037 (officer record brief), enlisted record brief, DA Form 20/2-1/66 (personnel qualification record), or other substantiating personnel qualification records for veterans.
  5. One-page narrative describing the qualifying incident and the conditions under which the member was injured or wounded.
  6. Statements from at least two individuals, other than the proposed recipient, who were personally present, observed the incident, and have direct knowledge of the event. Alternatively, other official documentation may be used to corroborate the narrative.
  7. Casualty report (if available).
  8. SF 600 (chronological record of medical care), SF Form 502 (clinical records) or equivalent military medical document.
  9. DD Form 214, WD Form AGO 53-55 or WD Form AGO 53-98 (official certificate of release or discharge from active duty) (if applicable).
  10. Morning, unit and/or situation reports.

According to the Army, commanders will consider the degree to which the enemy or hostile force caused the wound, and whether the wound was so severe that it required treatment by a medical officer in determining eligibility to the Purple Heart award.

Soldiers currently serving in the active Army, Army Reserve or Army National Guard must resubmit through their company commander (or equivalent). The individual soldier is responsible for gathering the required information and submitting the request.

Requests should be submitted to S1 or U.S. Army Human Resources Command: Commander, USAHRC, ATTN: Awards and Decorations Branch (AHRC-PDP-A), 1600 Spearhead Division Avenue, Fort Knox, KY 40121-5408 or by email at

The MILPER states that anyone with questions regarding the new regulations should contact the Awards and Decorations Branch, AHRC-PDP-A, 502-613-9126, (DSN) 983-9126, or by e-mail at

Recipients of the Purple Heart receive many special federal and state benefits, including special employment considerations, monetary benefits and more.

– Jim.Absher can be reached at

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