Canada has no Purple Heart but the Danes include PTSD in awarding their medal to wounded

With permission from Lily Casura, I am posting her recent article on Healing Combat Trauma. Do Canadian vets and current forces think Canada should also award Purple Hearts to our wounded? Let’s hear from you. Bonnie.

Those Progressive Danes! Their Purple Heart Just Extended to Include PTSD

© 2010 by Lily Casura / Healing Combat Trauma. All rights reserved. Use with attribution.

Those (ultimately) progressive Danes!

Danish Purple Heart Medal

In a momentous development yet to be mentioned in the American or the English language-speaking press, we’ve learned that Denmark has expanded the criteria for their version of our Purple Heart medal — given to those who have been wounded physically in combat operations — to include those who suffer the less-visible wound of post-traumatic stress disorder.

(We wrote about the topic back in 2008, linked here, about whether it would be wise to extend the Purple Heart’s criteria to include PTSD. That proposal generates controversy here, but the Danes have since moved past the controversy to actual recognition.)

From an official Danish government publication, issued date October 10, 2010, and translated here: “In 2010 Her Majesty The Queen approved that…veterans who are wounded physically in international operations can receive the Armed Forces Medal for Wounded in Service.”

Importantly, the publication adds, “The Government recognizes the psychological harm on an equal footing with physical damage, and has therefore taken the initiative to add recognition of physical and mental injuries treated. The Defense medal “Wounded in Service” will from now on be attributed also to those mentally wounded.”

(The medal, pictured here, was established in 2006, and is awarded to “military or civilian personnel killed, seriously wounded or disabled as a result of enemy or terrorist action.”)

Some background on the novel step the Danes have taken:

This past summer, the Jutland Post (Jyllands-Posten), one of Denmark’s largest-selling newspapers, published a video expose of Danish war veterans “so frustrated by society’s lack of empathy for suffering war-related post-traumatic behavioral issues (PTSD) that they have gone beneath the radar and are living in forests, eating berries and catching wildlife to survive,” according to Danish journalist Bent Lorentzen, who wrote about it, here.

Then Gitte Lillelund Bech, the first female Defense Minister, offended many Danes when she suggested that it was up to the veterans to find their own mental help. The head of one Danish veterans’ organization, Lars Christensen, responded angrily (translated) that her remarks were “a great insult to the people who today are suffering after having served Denmark. We urge all veterans to send their medals for us and we will return them to the Minister. When Gitte Lillelund Bech send people to war, it is also her responsibility to treat them properly when they get home.”

(See news story from the Danish press illustrating this controversy, linked here.)

In a follow-up to that controversy, Danish journalist Lorentzen wrote that, “In a statement to Sunday’s (June 27, 2010) Jyllands-Posten newspaper, Gitte Bech now admits that there is a need for the nation to seek out Danish war veterans and offer them crisis help. Denmark’s Military Service-persons Society (Hærens Konstabel og Korporalforening) praises Gitte Bech for becoming wiser. Apparently now, the decorated war veterans threatening in solidarity to return their medals of honor and bravery are holding off and seeing what will occur.” (Lorentzen’s article is linked here.)

We have yet to find a Danish press article on the expansion of the medal criteria to include PTSD, though when we do we will post that. (There is this recent article from The Copenhagen Post, talking about 19 new initiatives the Danes have just put into place to recognize and support those who serve, linked here, and that’s well worth reading.) In the meantime, the official government publication, quoted above, is proof that it happened and that it is now official policy. Whether other nations will follow Denmark’s progressive lead on this controversial question remains to be seen. We hope that they do.

Editor’s note: Gitte Lillelund Bech became Denmark’s first female defense minister in late February, 2010.

Additionally, many thanks to Danish war veteran Dean Lyngaard for his invaluable help researching this article! Lyngaard served in Operation Desert Storm, Bosnia, Croatia, and the Sudan, with the French Foreign Legion, with NATO and with Danish forces.


About Bonnie Toews and John Christiansen

Bonnie's Blog Posts invite our readers and free spirits everywhere to share life's adventures with us. I talk about writing my novels, reading books, chatting with other writers and John's and my journeys around the world. We welcome your anecdotes to our experiences and discussions.
This entry was posted in Afghanistan vets, Canadian Armed Forces, federal government, Homecoming Vets, veterans' affairs, veterans' assistance programs and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Canada has no Purple Heart but the Danes include PTSD in awarding their medal to wounded

  1. A real war hero says:

    hey – do a check up of this danish war hero……

    born in 1974 – he cannot have served in desert storm……. or the legion… as he claims military service in Denmark from 1990 – 2004 on his linkedin profile…… – his earliest military record could start in 1992 when he turns 18 ……

    claiming award “Legion D’Honneur”…. is a lie… as this was only rewarded to one danish legionnaire…who now is in his 70′—-

    To find out his records please contact the danish army for confirmation of details on the linkedin resume… Good luck….

  2. A real war hero says:

    Check this out….. This medal is not awarded to people with PTSD……

    You have been hoaxed..åskønnelse.aspx

    Forsvarets medalje for Faldne og Sårede i tjeneste.
    Indstiftet 3. oktober 1996.
    Medaljen tildeles militært og civilt personel, der er faldet, alvorlig såret eller invalideret som følge af våbenvirkning, inkl. miner, i kamphandlinger eller som følge af terroristvirksomhed.

    “The defence forces medal for killed or wounded in service.
    issued from 3rd october 1996.
    The Medal is awarded military and civilian personel, killed in action, severely wounded or invalided due to terroristattacks.”

    • A real war hero says:

      sorry for lousy translation…

      “the Medal is awarded military and civilian personel, killed in action, severele wounded or invalided due to the effect of weapons, including mines, combat actions or as result of terrorist attacks”….

      • Bonnie Toews says:

        Thanks for this information. I will let the author of Healinhg Combat Trauma know, and thanks for references because she will want to see these as well. I imagine we will both delete this posting from our blogs so this will also include your message.


  3. A real war hero says:

    you are welcome….

    a little more… he claims desert storm to the list of merits… how..? as he would be only 16 at that time… and as claimed on in service of the danish army, which did not fight in desert storm…… – is the danish Army operational Command… they can answer questions on “heroes”…… Alternate – danish homeguard…

  4. I can only confirm what other veterans write on Mr Dean Lyngaard, First of all he has never served in the French Foreign legion, in wich I joined in 1988 and served with for 15½ years.
    The award La Legion d´Honneur = Legion of Honnour, there is only one veteran in Denmark who has this award and he is 73 years old and ex police officer, he served in the foreign legion in the late 1950ties early 1960ties.
    How I do know that Mr Dean Lyngaard did not serv in the Ranks of the foreign legion, I am the Chairman of the association of ex legionnaires in Denmark and do have a detailed list of members of ex legionnaires who served as a minimum of five years.
    Mr Dean Lyngaard is a fake and a Liar, actually we can say he suffers the Baron Von Munchausen Syndrom and not the PTSD, a syndrom he cant suffer from as he on did his national service and afterwards only served in the Territorial army/National Guard!
    After serving in the foreign legion, I returned home to Denmark, spent four years in civil life and in the Territorial army, rejoined the Danish armed forces in 2007 as well as I served four month at Bagram Airfield in 2010 ( Afghanistan ) and im still going strong.

  5. A real war hero says:

    Tres bon, Mr Lange….

    I thanks for you input, just a confirmation that I am not the idiot here…. I guess not even the danish army has an award for “Baron von Munchausen”… even if his balls are burnt from riding the canon ball.

  6. Lars Christensen says:

    The story, that the “Danish Purple Heart” is extended to include PTSD is true. But, I don’t know if anyone has received it on these conditions yet. The system was changed according to the new Danish Veteran-policy

    Lars Christensen
    President of Danish Veterans of War and their relatives

  7. Henrik Larsen says:

    Mr Dean Lyngaard should be prosecuted and punished for his false identity to impersonate things he has not deserved. I can only have contempt for this person and hope that his conduct may give consequence to him. Although he obviously must have been mentally ill and suffering from delusions.

    Thanks to Mr. Brian Lange to provide conclusive evidence.

    After short research on the internet the following link shows the profile of Mr. Dean Lyngaard. Clearly he is not anything near an war hero:

  8. Bonnie Toews says:

    Gentlemen, if I delete this post, I end up deleting your comments as well. In some ways, that seems to be a pity. Actually proving who this Danish “vet” is not becomes the real story. Thank you. It’s also gratifying to know that vets in Denmark are reading this blog, so once again, thank you for your paricipation.


  9. Pingback: Progressive Danes « PTSD – A Way Out

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