Veteran Receives Long-awaited Purple Heart

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- Nine years ago a Sioux Falls soldier was wounded while serving in Iraq. A paperwork problem robbed him of the recognition he deserved. Now the Military has set things right. It was a day Jonathan Tilk had been waiting a long time for.

“Almost nine years later I’m finally being recognized,” said Tilk.

He comes from a military family. When he was 22 years old he decided to enlist. Then in 2009 when he was a Staff Sergeant he was badly wounded in Iraq.

“I received the combat action badge, but for wounds sustained merited the Purple Heart,” said Tilk.

Unfortunately the paperwork was lost and Tilk spent year trying to prove that he deserved a Purple Heart.  They are awarded in the name of the president to those wounded or killed while serving.

“To file an appeal you have to request to have your records corrected . You have to give as much evidence as you can to support your case.”

It was frustrating for him, but the wait is finally over. The VA Office in Sioux Falls held a formal ceremony to honor Tilk’s bravery in combat.

“It paid off. I had to be patient, but I mean it’s very rewarding and humbling and a big relief to finally have this,” said Tilk.

His daughters, in-laws, church members and fellow veterans were among the crowd, there to congratulate Tilk.

“You know it was great to feel the respect and dignity and the honor they were bestowing on me today.”

It was a hard recovery filled with depression, ptsd and anxiety but Tilt is grateful to now have  his Purple Heart.

It was just a huge weight lifted off my shoulders and to finally have the recognition and finally have the honor, not that this is ending the chapter necessarily, but it completes my military career,” said Tilk.

Tilk now works at Veteran Affairs as a Veteran Service Representative where he helps disabled veterans.


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