HARTFORD, CT (WCBS 880) – A change in the criteria for recipients of the Purple Heart is drawing praise from Connecticut‘s junior U.S. Senator.

WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau with Sen. Blumenthal

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Under the new rules of the Army, soldiers suffering traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions, during roadside bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan are now eligible to be awarded the Purple Heart.

“The fact that there is no bleeding and no physical injury may still disguise a very severe brain injury,” says Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

Blumenthal is among those who have been fighting for this military recognition.

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He is grateful that the lasting impact of a brain injury is now considered on par with physical wounds suffered in combat.

“We need to do outreach to veterans who may have suffered concussions,” says Blumenthal.

The Army estimates tens of thousands of soldiers have suffered concussions during these two wars.

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Awarding the Purple Heart exempts soldiers from VA medical co-pays, raising financial concerns among critics of this criteria change.