If a World War II veteran refused a Purple Heart (in this case, because he didn’t want to worry his family), would there be a record of that award anywhere? Would his family be able to claim it for him to help him mitigate catastrophic medical expenses? He suffers from Alzheimers and is unable to do so himself.
I’ve looked everywhere I can think of to look and can’t find much, other than refusals like his were not uncommon. Any information would be appreciated.
Servicemembers records will include all awards officially recognized on the DD-214; copies are often stored at the local courthouse, or should be. Most military records are stored at St. Louis, and there was a catastrophic fire in 1973 which destroyed quite a few. Family members and others can request a copy of a servicemembers DD-214, it might take a while.
Be sure and ask first at the county courthouse where the servicemember lived at the time - DD214 is just one of thousands of official gov’t forms, but is the most important one, so most veterans were often counseled to have official copies installed at the courthouse right away after discharge. There is no charge in many locales. This should be a lot quicker than the DOD.
As someone who has his DD214 on file with the county clerk I can assure you that there is only a copy there if the service member brought the copy there himself and asked the clerk to keep an official copy on file. It does not happen automatically.
Sorry hit submit too soon. What I was saying is pretty much what Tater was saying but I was trying to clarify. The service member would know if the form is at the county clerks office. No need to search, just ask him. I don’t think that is the problem here. If the award was refused it probably never went through and wasn’t on any official form. My uncle refused to be awarded the PH in Korea and regretted it the rest of his life. Not much you can do if there was no paper trail.
If it is not on the DD214 the only other option I can think of is to do a Freedom of Information Act request on his full record and the official records of his unit. If you can find some document stating he was wounded, an official dispatch, a casualty report an evaluation you may be able to get the DoD to award the medal he deserves. Even eyewitness reports from any surviving members of his unit might do it. I have a feeling this may take longer than you have.
I forgot to add that writing a letter to your congressman couldn’t hurt. They love to be seen to be helping veterans in need. You might have been able to get more help before the election but it’s worth a try. Nothing cuts through red tape in the military like a Congressional Inquiry.
Cite. The Purple Heart was originally awarded by George Washington as an award of merit during the Revolutionary War. It is the oldest decoration in the American Army. At the time it was a cloth purplr heart sown on the uniform. It was revived in 1932. I didn’t see it in the link but the rules were revived in 1942 (?) so that it is awarded only to those killed or wounded by enemy action. All wounded should receive the medal. However some, like my uncle, declined to be put in for it for minor wounds. It didn’t seem right to him to get the same medal that someone else got for losing a limb or dying. He regretted it later.