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'Purple Heart' medal for wounded troops

Servicemen and women killed or injured in combat are to receive medals as part of the Government's campaign to encourage greater appreciation of the nation's fighting forces.

The decision to introduce the British equivalent of the US "Purple Heart" is a key element of Ministry of Defence proposals to improve the public image of the military. A report on the public's perception is also likely to recommend later this month that the ban on servicemen and women talking to the media from war zones should be lifted.

The moves follow a controversial decision to stop RAF personnel in Peterborough from wearing their uniforms off-base following attacks in the city.

The Prime Minister commissioned the independent inquiry in December after widespread criticism of the apathy that greeted returning soldiers last year. An IoS campaign for the government to honour the Military Covenant – the agreement that soldiers risk their lives in return for fair treatment – compared the treatment of returning British soldiers to Americans, who received receptions and special treatment from businesses.

There was also widespread anger when Surrey residents living near Headley Court Rehabilitation Centre for severely wounded troops objected to a hostel for visiting friends and family to stay overnight.