Veteran receives Purple Heart after 16 years


Sixteen years after surviving a bomb detonation while serving in Iraq for the U.S. Army, a veteran from Seymour finally earned a Purple Heart medal last week.

The Purple Heart is presented to those who have been wounded or killed as a result of enemy action while serving in the U.S. military.

Jason Reed, 43, was born in La Porte and has been a resident of Seymour for four years. He graduated from New Prairie High School in New Carlisle in 1997 and signed up for the Army in November 1999.

Jason Reed’s Purple Heart.  SUBMITTED photo
Jason Reed’s Purple Heart. SUBMITTED photo

He worked at a factory for a year and a half before joining the military. His inspiration for going into the Army came from talking with a veteran with whom he worked.

In late 2004, he was deployed to Iraq. The incident from which he sustained injuries to earn the Purple Heart occurred June 12, 2005, in Tal Afar, Iraq.

With his squad, Reed was doing route clearance to find and remove roadside bombs, or improvised explosive devices.

They rode along in an armored vehicle called a Buffalo to investigate bombs on the road. An operator uses an arm attached to the vehicle for bomb disposal.

Seeing debris on the side of the road, the Buffalo stopped to inspect the area. The arm operator surveyed the scene and told Reed to come to his location.

He said he only remembers seeing three large 155mm rounds with red cord running to them, then a large flash of light. He woke up on base with his sergeant and doctors asking him questions.

After the IEDs detonated, the blast threw him in the back of the Buffalo. His head struck the back door of the vehicle, making him go unconscious. He sustained a concussion and a traumatic brain injury.

Reed currently works for the Department of Defense and remains in the military. He currently is a first sergeant in the Indiana Army National Guard.

A Purdue University Global alum, Reed has a bachelor’s degree in health and wellness and a master’s degree in public health.

For several years, Reed said he has tried getting a Purple Heart. Initially, a request was put in for him due to the injuries sustained from the incident and from enemy contact. It was denied due to him not receiving external injuries.

Years later, he said he tried applying for a Purple Heart again with the same result.

Going to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for an evaluation in 2019, he said the staff told him to appeal his application denial and send appropriate documents to the Army Review Boards Agency.

Reed completed the paperwork and said he let it sit on his desk at work for six months. He felt like he was wasting his time since it was his third time trying to get a Purple Heart.

One day, he said he came into work and spontaneously grabbed his paperwork to take to the post office to be mailed off.

About a year later, he got a call at work from Washington, D.C., with someone congratulating him for being a Purple Heart recipient.

Last week, he received his Purple Heart at an award ceremony in Indianapolis.

“I was in shock. I couldn’t believe that 16 years later and on my third attempt I was approved for this award,” he said. “The one thing I have to say to people is no matter what it is in life, if you feel you deserve something, keep trying. Don’t ever give up.”

No posts to display