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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs


VA Sets Rules for Purple Heart Recipients

June 30, 2000, 08:00:00 AM

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Veterans awarded the Purple Heart for combat wounds will find it easier to get medical care from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Under new VA rules, Purple Heart veterans now have a higher priority for health-care services than before. Also, they dont have to make out-of-pocket payments, technically known as "co-payments," for either inpatient or outpatient VA medical services.

"VA has always recognized and appreciated the contributions of those who hold the Purple Heart," said Dr. Thomas L. Garthwaite, VAs Acting Under Secretary for Health. "Now, we are according those veterans a priority befitting their service to this nation."

The new rules authorize VA to reimburse Purple Heart recipients for any medical co-payments made to VA for care given after November 29, 1999. Purple Heart recipients are still responsible for making co-payments of $2 for each 30-day supply of prescription medicine given to outpatients for conditions that are not related to military service.

"We urge Purple Heart recipients who have medical conditions they believe are related to their military service to contact VA for help in filing a claim," said Joe Thompson, VAs Under Secretary for Benefits.

By itself, the Purple Heart doesnt qualify veterans for VA disability compensation. That requires a separate screening process. Nor does the Purple Heart affect eligibility for long-term nursing care.

VAs new eligibility rules for Purple Heart recipients were approved last year by Congress in the Veterans Millennium Health Care and Benefits Act. The change affects the seven-step priority system that Congress set up for VA health care.

It moves Purple Heart recipients who were in VAs priority groups 4 through 7 into priority group 3. Purple Heart recipients who qualify for priority groups 1 or 2 by virtue of service-connected disabilities will stay in those higher groups.

Anyone claiming benefits as a Purple Heart recipient must prove that they have been awarded the decoration. VA will accept the following as proof: Defense Department Form 214, discharge papers, military personnel records, orders or award certificates.

The Purple Heart is the nations oldest military medal. George Washington presented the first medals in 1783. Today, there are approximately 600,000 living veterans who were wounded in combat and received the medal, according to the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

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