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Posted: May 31, 2012 1:32 p.m.

Ga. Marine's Purple Heart a milestone

MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — A U.S. Marine from suburban Atlanta has become the first Georgian to receive a Purple Heart under new rules designed to honor military members who suffer brain injuries.

Monroe Seigle, a Marietta native and a senior at Kennesaw State University, was given a Purple Heart during a ceremony Wednesday at Dobbins Air Force Base.

Seigle is the first Georgian to receive the honor since the Department of Defense's 2011 decision to change the criteria to specifically include concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries, officials said.

Seigle was injured by an improvised roadside bomb while on duty in Iraq in 2006. He suffered a concussion.

"It was a huge explosion and the gunner's face was shredded by shrapnel," Seigle, 32, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I was stunned and I remember being in a ditch with debris raining down on me. I remember being in a daze."

After leaving the service, Seigle enrolled at Kennesaw State and is set to earn a bachelor's degree in foreign languages, and then enter the master's program in conflict management.

"There are lots of things I want to do for other veterans," he told The Marietta Daily Journal. "I want to make sure they are treated fairly by the military. If they have post-traumatic stress disorder, they often make mistakes, and I want to make sure they get the proper help and support."

Seigle said they often self-medicate with alcohol or lash out at others.

"I just want to be a driving force behind positive changes in how war veterans are treated by military branches of the service while still in active duty," Seigle told the Daily Journal.

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