In the News
Panama City News Herald
Jan 18 2017
Rep. Paul Cook, R-Calif., plans to introduce the Private Corrado Piccoli Purple Heart Preservation Act this session. The bill would penalize the sale of any Purple Heart awarded to a member of the Armed Forces by imprisonment up to six months or a fine.
PANAMA CITY — Military veteran Rick Roschy spent 43 days in a hospital after he sustained critical injuries from artillery fire during the Vietnam War.
It wasn’t the only wound he sustained during the war, though the second one was less severe — he stepped in a punji stick pit. Roschy, who now lives in Panama City, was given two Purple Heart medals for his injuries. The veteran called the Purple Heart a privilege and said the medal is very important to him.
“Anything they would do to diminish it is wrong,” Roschy said. “It tells me that the country and the military respect what we do.”
And a little-known piece of legislation expected to come up in Congress this year could discourage his Purple Heart from ever falling into other hands.
U.S. Rep. Paul Cook, R-Calif., plans to introduce the Private Corrado Piccoli Purple Heart Preservation Act this session. The bill, which was first filed last year, would penalize the sale of any Purple Heart awarded to a member of the Armed Forces by imprisonment up to six months or a fine, which would be determined by the Department of Justice based off the federal fine schedule.
“The purpose of the bill is to see the Purple Heart protected and to ensure medals find their way back to families or homes of honor,” Cook, himself a veteran, said in an emailed statement to The News Herald. “It’s wrong to turn profits on the sacrifices of our service members. These medals are powerful symbols of selflessness in defense of our nation. They deserve to be cherished by families instead of being traded like a pack of baseball cards and auctioned to the highest bidder.”
Cook introduced the bill last year, but it was at the end of the congressional session and no action was taken. He is optimistic it will pass this time and expects it to get referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations as it was last session.
Another optimistic supporter is Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Panama City, who plans to co-sponsor the bill and expects it to pass. Dunn, also a veteran, said the bill will ensure the sacrifices of the fallen and the wounded are remembered with dignity and honor.
“The Purple Heart is a sacred honor bestowed on the fallen and our wounded warriors. They are presented to parents and spouses of brave Americans killed in action,” he said. “They are presented at the hospital bedsides of troops who have lost limbs in IED blasts. The Purple Heart and the sacrifices it honors is not a commodity, and should not be traded or sold for profit like one.”
Other veterans in Bay County support the bill, including Vietnam veteran Frank Price, who agreed the bill would protect the Purple Heart’s integrity.
Price said he had mixed feelings about the sale or giving away of a Purple Heart, saying some veterans are disrespecting the country while others with post-traumatic stress disorder don’t fully grasp the consequences.
However, one thing Price was not ambivalent about was penalizing anyone wearing a medal who didn’t earn it.
“I personally feel anybody wearing medals not presented to them should be fined,” he said. “That disgraces every soldier that’s ever fought.”