JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Five Washington-based soldiers with Traumatic Brain Injuries have received the Purple Heart. They were honored Monday at a ceremony at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. In 2011, the Army issued new standards for awarding Purple Hearts to soldiers with brain injuries.
Hundreds of soldiers stand in formation in the rain.
They are members of the a battalion whose job is to clear routes of buried and hidden bombs. These soldiers returned from Afghanistan in July.
At the front of the formation are the five Purple Heart recipients. To look at them you wouldn’t know they were injured. All five have been diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI from battlefield blasts.
Sgt. Robert Whitmarsh was close by when another soldier stepped on a pressure plate.
“Got rocked pretty good," he says. "Didn’t really know where I was for the first few minutes.”
He chokes up when asked about the soldier who triggered the blast. That soldier is now a triple amputee.
“Lost both of his legs and his left arm and he’s doing all right now.”
Whitmarsh still suffers from sensitivity to light and migraine-like pain from his TBI.
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network