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Pentagon: Purple Hearts ordered for veterans, not Kosovo conflict

Purple Heart

May 28, 1999
Web posted at: 6:30 PM EDT (2230 GMT)

From CNN's Chris Plante

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Department of Defense has contracted with a Texas firm to buy 9,000 Purple Heart awards, but officials insist the order does not have anything to do with the war in Yugoslavia.

Pentagon officials, who asked not to be named, told CNN that the Defense Logistics Agency ordered the medals at the request of Congress, primarily to fill replacement requests from a growing number of the nation's 26 million veterans. About 100,000 veterans are currently awaiting delivery of Purple Hearts and other awards they either never collected or lost.

Many veterans -- from World War II to Vietnam -- were awarded the Purple Heart but never collected the medal itself, the officials said. The medal is awarded to those wounded or killed in the service of the nation.

Veterans are also entitled to one replacement medal if it was lost.

The Defense Department currently has some 6,667 Purple Hearts in the inventory.

Members of Congress received so many complaints from constituents about the Defense Department's lack of action in responding to requests for replacement awards that they passed a law "to direct the Secretary of Defense to eliminate the backlog in satisfying requests of former members of the armed forces for the issuance or replacement of military medals and decorations."

  • Freed U.S. soldiers heading home with Purple Hearts

    Military Order of the Purple Heart Home Page
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