VA Secretary Robert Wilkie was six-years old when his father came home after being gravely wounded during the invasion of Cambodia. His father spent years recovering from his combat injuries, and when he finally retired, Robert Wilkie Sr. left service with two bad knees, needing two new hips, and with lead in his body leftover from that conflict in Southeast Asia.

His father’s experience during those years greatly influence how Secretary Wilkie views VA’s role in provided care and benefits to the men and women injured during their military service. To this day, he holds Purple Heart recipients, like his father, in especially high regard.

This is why he was so pleased to announce an amendment to the Veterans Benefit Administration’s (VBA) priority processing categories earlier this week.

“Those who hold the Purple Heart, the recognition of wounds taken in battle, will now receive priority consideration when it comes to claims before the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Wilkie during recent testimony before the House Subcommittee of Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies.

VA Secretary Wilkie addresses House Appropriations Subcommittee

With this amendment, Purple Heart recipients who submit initial disability compensation claims on or after April 1, 2019, will be added to nine categories of emergent claims requiring priority processing from VBA. These include claimants who are:

  • in the Fully Developed Claim (FDC) Program
  • homeless or experiencing extreme financial hardship
  • terminally ill
  • more than 85 years old, or
  • survivors of a former Prisoner of War (FPOW).

Also, any current or former member of the Armed Forces, or survivor who:

  • was very seriously injured/seriously injured (VSI/SI) in service and is not already receiving Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability benefits
  • is diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease
  • is an FPOW, or
  • received the Medal of Honor

Purple Heart recipients are already treated on a priority basis at VA medical centers across the country, and are exempt from co-payments for their medical care. Including their initial disability claims in VBA’s priority claims processing will further improve their overall experience with VA, and shows the department’s commitment to improving the claims process.

Here is how social media responded to the news:


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Published on Mar. 1, 2019

Estimated reading time is 2.3 min.

Views to date: 689


  1. Colton Balke March 23, 2019 at 4:26 am

    I got a plate and 6 screws while on duty as a MP. I didn’t get a Purple Heart because I was not in combat. Every weekend we go to war against our own because they can’t control their drinking and beating on their wife, kids, and neighbors.

  2. Ray H Long Jr March 13, 2019 at 11:02 am

    You act like the VA is there to help the Veteran. That is why we have rules like you have to come down with something within six days after leaving Nam or more than 85 years old, why not say more than 120 years old. The Va is trying to hold out until ALL NAM VETERANS HAVE DIED. THAT IS WHY ANY BILL THAT GOES TO THE VA GETS HELD UP AND NOT PUT IN PLACE. THEY WANT YOU GIVE UP OR DIE BEFORE YOUR CLAIM GOES THRU. I have had it all, They can’t find your claim or record has it and records say the VA has your records. THEY WANT TO TELL YOU HOW MUCH IT WILL COST TO GIVE A VETERAN MONEY. WHY IS IT THEY DON’T SAY THAT WHEN THEY GET A PAY RAISE.

  3. george bright March 13, 2019 at 9:22 am

    When I go to the Hospital I wait in line just like the rest. When have you had to wait because of a Purple heart

  4. Ron Myers March 11, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    What about the Agent Orange and the Radiation Exposed Veterans? They were injured for life and did not receive purple hearts. All Veterans should initially have to stand in line and wait their turns. Actually all claims that have been inprocess over ten years or more should be automatically granted. Cheers!

  5. Rick B March 10, 2019 at 11:01 pm

    I don’t think a veteran should get priority over another. We all served, and we all are due the same exact consideration. Putting one veteran ahead of another just because they received a PH is wrong.

    • Erasmo Riojas March 12, 2019 at 1:58 pm

      Rick B.’
      Navy SEALs did six month tours to ‘nam. We came home for more training and back to ‘nam within six months. On my first tour we logged in over 100 combat patrols in the bush. I did not do all 100 because i was wounded.
      You saying that all the desk jockeys in Saigon NAVFORV should have the same benefits as Navy SEAL have?
      Maybe you were never a bullet magnet out in the field? If you were; you deserve your well earned benefits for going into harm’s way willing to sacrifice your life for the good of your Outfit and brothers.
      GROW UP
      Erasmo “Doc” Riojas
      USN Ret U.S. Navy SEAL
      Wounded in Korea Police Action and in the Vietnam war games
      I earned my benefits!

  6. Frank Danielson March 10, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    Please don’t forget the “Agent Orange “ that was sprayed all over South Vietnam.

  7. scott jacobs March 10, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    Any and ALL who have served Deserve Our respect !!! The only reason these priority changes are proposed /made is to
    Gain some support from Soldiers Affected.
    This puts another level, of making All Who Have Served
    not Equal in Obtaining, timely medical care and VBA timely claim processing !!!
    What Efforts – intergraded process have been made to 1. Speed up the vba process ?
    2. Every time a proposed change id made, the working people of the VA have to make it happen, on top of a syestem, that is under staffed, and of course under Funded. Remember a large number of VA personal are soldiers Also — Soldier for Life !!
    All that need to be Said — The VA has been short, in caring for soldiers for 30 plus Years, is this
    Politics with a different Face ???
    Which ever way YOU Feel — Vote 2020 for you and Family — and the Family called Soldiers

  8. Paul Patton Winnkel, Jr. March 10, 2019 at 2:30 pm

    20 Years after leaving ‘Nam, PTSD erupted and I went to counseling initiated by Walter Reed Military Hospital one night per week at $90 per week (out of my pocket and not paid for by Tricare that came later but not durng my counseling period for 6 years until I “graduated”:….does this count for the PH? I have 50% disability for PTSD and receive VA compensation….I also have two knee replacements made in 2005 & 2006………..and on 9 Nov 2018 I had two clamps placed in my heart’s mitralvalve to stop regurgitaion…….and next Monday the 18th of March, 2019 I go into surgery to have a pig flap valve placed in my heart’s Aorta.
    Does any of this qualify me for the PH
    (Two tours in “Nam: 1965-66 and 1968-69…. as a helicopter flight leader with the 1/Cav Air Aslt Div (Ambl) with 609 combat hours and a Silver Star.

  9. Tony Ramos March 10, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    I am glad the VA is doing something for someone. This year will be 9 years of waiting for my appeal. 17 months since video con. with the Federal Judge. I still have 34,000 plus appeals in front of me.

  10. piggy banking March 9, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    last time i checked, legal issues is not good… hopefully, they will sort things out

  11. David H Speer March 9, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    I am a purple hart vet I have bin waiting to hear from the VA for over five years. Will this help all the vets that are still waiting ?

  12. steve carlson March 9, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    What of those of us injured in active duty, but where we ‘were never there’ due to classified

  13. Elvin Wilkerson March 9, 2019 at 10:42 am

    Purple hearts are awarded even to soldiers who got scratches or bloody noses DURING COMBAT. PTSD affected everyone who was in Vietnam, but the scars don’t show on the outside so they are far more easily ignored or minimized.
    I have PTSD, but the VA denies the fact. Since they deny my PTSD, they also deny the glaring fact that it is service-related.
    I have suffered from PTSD since I came back from Vietnam in 1972. As I see it everything else short of addressing PTSD is just lip-service and smoke. What are you going to do about me and my fellow sufferers?

  14. Paul USMC March 8, 2019 at 6:21 pm

    I suffer everyday from this mind trauma…It never heals.It ruined my life and family.It sucks!
    Paul USMC 1/8 Marines

  15. virginia chambers March 8, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    my husband got shot in Viet-Nam,got a Purole Heart,in 1994 f0r only several mos,then was cut off,only $130.00 at that time.
    the VA excuse was he had an old ragged trailer and a lot in a bad part of Den,Spgs,La,IT WAS MINE BEFORE WE MARRIED.

  16. William J Harper, Jr March 8, 2019 at 4:32 pm

    Purple Heart from being injured in Vietnam.

  17. C Scott Moore March 8, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    There should be a medal awarded that could be named “Soldiers Heart” . This would be given to men and women suffering

    from PTSD and other psychological trauma. This idea and award is long overdue and would go along way in making clear

    the internal long term wounds of battle.

    C. Scott Moore MOPH
    Former combat platoon leader – Vietnam

    • Colton Balke March 11, 2019 at 11:54 am

      Agree with you. I just had a metal plate and six screws removed after 20 years. It happened while on duty as a Military Police officer. Keep your medal, just glad I survived.

  18. Michael Ainsworth March 8, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    Although I have had some, I have to write “SOME” good treatment at the VA at the Martinez California none has been for my service connected wound! This VA has cost me my job, taken money like the greedy low life they are! I was wounded May 14, 1967. Failed VSO’s, NSO’s and I have experienced a few lying ass doctor’s & have had some important medical paper’s destroyed by one Jeff Jewel…what is odd about that he was moved to a higher position! If I could have children I would have eight from the FUBAR treatment and the non caring but, a fucking dope addict who never was in a war get’s treated with every care possible!

  19. Larry jones March 8, 2019 at 3:21 pm

    I had orders for vn but ended up with 2 back operations instead. Do I get a purple heart and go to the front?

  20. Dean Graham March 8, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    This is great news! Also can you stop withholding Veterans pensions 100% to pay back seperation bonuses? It is effecting a two veteran household and causing a massive financial hardship.

  21. Gary Krzankowski March 8, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    So here I am…a Purple Heart Vet still waiting for a hearing on the appeal I submitted five and a half years ago. Will I get bumped up in line or will I get pushed back in line? I think it’s great what the VA is doing for Purple Heart vets but will all Purple Heart vets benefit from this latest move…or will some not benefit from this move? This doesn’t look fair for all Purple Heart vets.

  22. Gary Krzankowski March 8, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    So here I am…a Purple Heart vet…waiting for a hearing on the appeal I submitted 5 1/2 years ago. Do I get bumped up also?
    It’s great that this is being done for Purple Heart vets…but not all Purple Heart vets will benefit from this move…. in fact, it looks like there will be Purple Heart vets like me, pushed back in line. Where’s the fairness there?

  23. Patrick Kite March 8, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    Awarding another medal instead of the PH would be downgrading the suffering of anyone receiving it. Should we make another medal for those who had internal damage, it can’t be seen either?

  24. Greg Kaepp March 8, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    What about those 11B (Combat Grunts) that were wounded in combat but did not feel worthy of a Purple Heart? For instance, I was grazed on the hip taking small arms fire (scar remains to this date) and peppered with shrapnel from enemy mortars on the summit of Hamburger Hill. We didn’t think the wounds were worthy compared to those severely wounded and others that gave their lives. We joked about it but didn’t take it serious. What about all the blood soaked boots from leaches? The bottoms of the feet peeling off in Monsoon weather. All the cuts from razor sharp elephant grass leading to swelled fingers and hands that would not close as infection caused them to be stiff. Each hand had to be scraped a razor scalpel by the medic, who applied a lotion and gauze that lasted about an hour or two just so you could close your hands and pull the trigger etc. Skin infections (ringworm) caused by being in the boonies 20 to 30 days at a time.

  25. Richard Jablonski March 8, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    At the expense of established claims where it takes 5+ months to do a pension medical expense adjustment. Too bad hospitals and doctors will not wait 5 months for payment before you start getting collections calls so you pay them with credit cards and loans paying interest waiting for your claim.

    • gene mock March 10, 2019 at 3:11 pm

      Having a 11 in your MOS should automatically take you to the front of the line. Thanks for posting.

  26. BOBBY L STURGILL March 8, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    I salute the VA for taking this position., Purple heart recipients should be added to the priority list… Thank you secretary Wilkie

  27. DANIEL PAPA March 8, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    This article says, “Purple heart veterans are exempt from co-payments for their medical care”. I am a Purple Heart recipient and I am paying co-payments. How do I have that corrected?

  28. W. Kidd March 8, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    Ok does this mean if you have a purple Heart from Vietman you are in on this or not becuase I have one from 1967 and I don’t get anything for it my knee bother me to the point I want to scream the pain is unreal I have told the doctor about he said to take a pill well that does not help. If this is true Thank you so much maybe there is some thing they can and will do about it

    • A.Atherley March 8, 2019 at 7:43 pm

      W. Kidd,The only way to find out is to file a claim. Very simple.

  29. gudtalent chrisent March 5, 2019 at 6:32 am

    i hope they sort things out and the right person wins

  30. sumo save March 5, 2019 at 6:31 am

    in seriously don’t like legal issues

  31. Kimberly Bishop March 3, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Giving priority to purple heart recipients is a great idea. We should support those who are injured in the service of their country.

  32. JACK L. HATCHITT March 2, 2019 at 5:01 pm


Comments are closed.

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