Purple Heart Politics: An Update

Sharyl Attkisson is the Capitol Hills Correspondent for CBS News.
There's good news to report today.

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to meet with and tell the story of Staff Sergeant Sean Knudsen of Michigan. Injured in the Iraq War two years ago, he was approved for a Purple Heart in the field, only to be told some months later that the award had been mysteriously "disapproved" by someone in the chain of command on up the line. He was a sort of living, breathing oxymoron: he'd returned from the war certified as partially disabled from his combat injuries, while the same military seemed to deny he'd been injured in combat by refusing him the Purple Heart.

Knudsen isn't the only soldier who's fought a frustrating battle to receive the honor he deserves. No explanations have been provided by the decision-makers in the military. Congressman Mike Rogers took up his constituent's cause, contacting the Pentagon on Knudsen's behalf more than a year ago, but he says he didn't get any answers that made sense.

The good news is that Sgt. Knudsen will be getting his Purple Heart after all. The Army has apparently had a change of heart. Two years after the fact, he'll be given the special honor reserved for service members injured in combat while serving their country. (You can see our original report on Sgt. Knudsen by clicking the monitor on the left)

The Purple Heart is a special thank you from those of us who are protected by people like Knudsen; symbolic gratitude from a grateful nation to those who have done so in the past, and to those who will be called upon to protect us in future conflicts yet to be imagined.

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    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.