Retired SFC Matthew Netzel Awarded Purple Heart

By Deana Perry, AW2 Advocate

Retired SFC Matthew Netzel holds his two-year-old daughter, Abigail, while speaking to the audience at his Purple Heart Ceremony.

When retired SFC Mattew Netzel first asked for my help with his Purple Heart, I told him, “Sure, no problem, we can do that.” Then the details came. We first tracked down his treating physician for medical documentation on his injuries sustained in Afghanistan in 2006—two thousand six! Quietly, I was thinking, oh boy, how do I do that? Can I do that? But I wasn’t about to let Netzel know that I was uncertain of my success. If I told him I would only try, then I might be tempted to only try. In my mind, he was holding me accountable to follow through. He was going to get his Purple Heart. And, that required more than just a nice try.

Last month, my husband, my son, and I walked down the sidewalk outside the city hall building toward the Purple Heart Memorial in Harker Heights, TX. It was drizzling and a bit humid as we approached the crowd. I saw Netzel standing near the memorial, surrounded by his Family and friends. It was there where he received his Purple Heart during a ceremony hosted by the Military Order of the Purple Heart Central Texas Chapter #1876. I watched and swelled with pride and satisfaction as retired MG Stewart Meyer pinned the Purple Heart to Netzel’s chest and said the Purple Heart was a small token of appreciation for the sacrifices he made for his country. When Netzel spoke, with his daughter in his arms, he thanked the crowd and said, “It makes you reflect on the ones that aren’t able to be here.”

So, I did leave a lot out of this story, but the how doesn’t seem as imporatant as the who and why. Netzel is an inspiration to me, and it was a priviledge to be a part of the efforts that ensured he received recognition for his sacrifices while defending our nation. Almost every time we talk, he thanks me for helping him, but I’m not the one who is owed thanks. It is an honor to serve as his AW2 Advocate. Thank you, Matt!

Editor’s Note: SFC Matthew Netzel was injured in November 2006 when his 11-man patrol was ambushed by as many as 60 Taliban fighters. Four rocket-propelled grenades detonated next to Netzel and two other Soldiers. The blast threw Netzel off a 10-foot embankment onto a rockbed.

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  • Lisa Gallup

    That is awesome Deana! One of the many rewards for being an AW2 Advocate!

  • Melvin Queenie SSG Retired U.S. Army

    Hello! First, I would to congratulate SFC Netzel. I am a retired vet. who served two tours in Iraq. During my tour in Iraq, I was struck by an IED. Now, since I’ve retired from the Army, I am suffering with TBI. How do I inquire about being awarded the Purple Heart retro or what do I need to do to see if I qualify for post award. Thank you for any help/info.

    • alanmorales1

      Retired SSG Queenie, Thank you for your comment. To learn more about the Army’s policy on awarding the Purple Heart to those who sustained mild traumatic brain injuries, please review this article on the U.S. Army’s website (). The article lists points of contact that may be of assistance. Thanks. WTC Stratcom

  • bkpearce

    So now it is being discovered that alot of guys are having secondary TBI’s and needing care well under the new regs that requires a Purple Heart as well, and 1sg’s and CSM’s are denying the issuance of the awards it’s not in their lane, it is awesome that it was made sure that SFC Netzel received his award now let’s do the rest of the work.

  • nathaniel

    i too suffered wounds and a TBI while serving in Iraq. My rep from the hospital at fort campbell contantly told me to check in with him over and over agian. i provided all the reports, statements from fellow unit members, and even had recomendation from my command for purple heart award. Never recived it, was medically retired at age 27 with 90%dissability. i need help. I’ve fought for my country bled and suffered. Lost so much and all i got was a pat on the back and folded flag on my way out. The VA recently adjusted my rating to 90% so atleast i guess i got something. i guess. but i know what i deserve.

    • alanmorales1

      Sir, Thank you for sharing your comment. If you are an AW2 Soldier or Veteran, I advise you contact the AW2 Call Center at 1-877-393-9058. They have access to a great deal of resources and can provide assistance. Otherwise, you can contact the Wounded Soldier and Family Hotline at (800) 984-8523. Thanks. –WTC Stratcom

  • Anne Woods

    Very nice story!

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