Jefcoat Letter

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 14, 2008

To the editor:

The Department of Defense announced this month that it has expanded the Purple Heart eligibility criteria allowing prisoners-of-war who died in captivity to receive the award. The revised department policy presumes, for service members who die in captivity as a qualifying prisoner-of-war, that their death was the “result of enemy action,” or the result of wounds incurred “in action with the enemy” during capture, or as a result of wounds incurred as a “result of enemy action” during capture, unless compelling evidence is presented to the contrary.

The revised policy allows retroactive award of the Purple Heart to qualifying prisoners-of-war since Dec. 7, 1941. Posthumous award will be made to the deceased service member’s representative, as designated by the secretary of the military department concerned, upon application to that military department. Each military department will publish application procedures and ensure they are accessible by the general public.

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Family members with questions may contact the services:  Army: Military Awards Branch, (703) 325-8700; Navy: Navy Personnel Command, Retired Records Section, (314) 592-1150; Air Force: Air Force Personnel Center, (800) 616-3775; Marine Corps: Military Awards Branch, (703) 784-9340.

This information may be important to Mississippi residents who were formerly prisoners of war, their spouses or widows. Mississippi also has benefits that allows spouses of veterans awarded the Purple Heart, who have been declared 100 percent permanently disabled, who have been killed on active duty or who have been awarded the Medal of Honor to keep their “free” auto tags. For further information see the web site

/s/ Bobby Jefcoat